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MSC calls on caterers to make a new year's resolution on fish sourcing

Rachel Dacre

Rachel Dacre

Marketing and Communications Manager

An independent survey commissioned by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) shows almost two thirds of diners want to see sustainable seafood on menus yet only a small percentage can actually find it. At the same time, figures released by the MSC show that the retail sector is currently dominating sales of MSC certified seafood by 98%.

In the last year, UK sales of MSC labelled seafood have almost doubled to just over £228 million with this rate of increase expected to continue into 2013. However, within the foodservice industry, UK sales have only just hit £4 million. Isolated, this is a fantastic achievement as foodservice sales have rocketed from just a few hundred thousand pounds in a year, showing a significant increase in interest within the industry. However, over half of the seafood Britain eats comes from restaurants, caterers and takeaways, yet it is the retail sector leading the way on sustainable sourcing, with sales of over £224 million.

Demand outstrips supply – but we're too polite to ask

There’s a clear market demand from consumers with 39% willing to pay more for a certified, ecolabelled product. In restaurants, 63% of those surveyed believe it is important for restaurants to show they have sustainable seafood options and 53% actively want it to be an option for them to order. Here, the British reserve cuts in though, with only 17% saying they would openly ask for it, so it is up to restaurateurs to proactively make the switch.

There have already been significant commitments from McDonalds, Sodexo, Compass and several other caterers, and pioneers such as Raymond Blanc and Tommasina Miers are leading the way.

Toby Middleton, MSC's UK Country Manager, is calling on restaurants to make a New Year's change: "The commitments we’ve had so far have been fantastic and are providing a great base for sustainable seafood choices within the foodservice industry. However, the opportunity to expand in this market is huge as the demand from consumers is there; caterers just need to take the plunge. This is a call for a New Year’s resolution for restaurants to switch to certified sustainable seafood."

Consumers trust ecolabels – and this trust is growing

66% of consumers rank ecolabels as the most trusted source of information on environmentally sourced products, a rise of 5% in a year, ranking higher than family and friends (63%) and television programmes (52%).

Ocean concern

Consumers are concerned about the oceans and seafood sustainability, and this concern is growing. This year, 56% of those surveyed believed falling fish stocks is a very important issue and are more concerned about it now than just a year ago, whist 69% believe they can make a difference and ensure future fish supplies by buying MSC labelled seafood. This has transferred into buying habits as the percentage of those who will only buy sustainably sourced fish has risen to 19% from 16%.

Along with this, recognition of the MSC ecolabel among the UK’s fish buyers has leapt to 31%; a 13% increase from 18% in 2010.

For more information

The biennial consumer survey conducted by Albemarle Marketing Research (AMR), aims to understand the consumer’s attitude towards and recognition of ecolabels in general, and opinions towards sustainable seafood and MSC labelled products. The research is undertaken every two years to monitor awareness of and commitment to the MSC labelled products in key markets.

More Information about the MSC

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