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Sainsbury’s in Double Win for Seafood Sustainability

Karen Attwood

Senior PR Manager UK & Ireland   

The retailer is the first to win both MSC UK and ASC UK Awards

Sainsbury’s has won the double at the Marine Stewardship Council’s annual awards in celebration of sustainable seafood by scooping MSC UK Supermarket of the Year and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) UK Retailer of the Year.

This is the first time a major retailer has won both awards in the same year – from both MSC, the leading ecolabel for wild caught seafood and ASC, the leading ecolabel for farmed seafood.

The MSC UK Awards, which are a celebration of the commitment to sustainable seafood across the whole supply chain from ocean to plate, were held last night (October 26) at the Fishmongers’ Hall, London and were sponsored by Seafood Scotland. This is the third year that ASC has partnered with MSC and presented awards for the aquaculture sector.

To mark the tenth year of the awards this year, a display featuring key landmarks in the history of the MSC was exhibited. The keynote speech was given by broadcaster and marine biologist Monty Halls, with an additional address from MSC CEO, Rupert Howes.

This year’s MSC award was handmade by eco homeware company Rawr, using crushed clam and cockle shells from the MSC certified Poole Harbour fishery in Dorset, and mussel shells from Shetland’s MSC certified fishery. This year’s ASC awards were created by The Grain and engraved on FSC certified limewashed oak.

Gavin Hodgson, Director of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Horticulture, from Sainsbury’s said: "At Sainsburys, we’re committed to our Plan for Better - better for you, better for the planet and better for everyone. Sourcing from fisheries and aquaculture that are certified as sustainable and responsibly managed is a key part of delivering this plan and something we have been working with our suppliers on for a long time.

“We are delighted to be the first UK retailer in history to win both the MSC and ASC Retailer of the Year awards in the same year, highlighting our efforts towards the responsible sourcing of wild caught and farmed fish.”

The MSC UK Supermarket of the Year award was judged on the number of MSC labelled products, the percentage of total range certified and volume on sale at large retail stores, as well as the progress made since last year.

The ASC Retailer of the Year award was judged on progress made and total number of ASC labelled products, and volume of ASC fish and seafood on sale at retail stores.

George Clark, MSC UK & Ireland Programme Director, said: “Sainsbury’s has made fantastic progress this year and is well deserving of the MSC UK Supermarket of the Year award, reclaiming title after previous wins over the years.

“In the midst of a cost of living crisis, Sainsbury’s has not only provided quality and affordable fish and seafood, but has also prioritised the health of our oceans by selling products from sustainable fisheries.

“By offering seafood with the blue MSC ecolabel, Sainsbury's is ensuring that their customers can make responsible choices, knowing that they are positively impacting our environment.”

Aisla Jones, ASC Market Development Manager UK & Ireland, said “Congratulations to Sainsbury’s on their win! We’re delighted that they have won this award for the second year running  through their hard work and commitment to ASC over the past 12 months. With their support we can continue driving our programme forward and setting the standard for farmed seafood.”

Other highlights from the event include Birds Eye winning Frozen Brand of the Year for the tenth year in a row, while Waitrose were handed the Fish Counter of the Year award for the sixth year running.

New England Seafood International also won the double with MSC UK Retail Supplier of the Year and ASC UK Retail Supplier of the Year while Aldi was crowned Mid- size Store Retailer of the Year.

Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying, at Aldi, said: “Our primary focus is always to provide the best quality products at the lowest possible price, so it’s fantastic for us to receive this prestigious title from the MSC awarding body.

“We’re extremely proud that Aldi sold the largest volume of MSC-certified products compared to any other UK supermarket in the last year, and this achievement is a testament to our commitment to sustainable sourcing.”

Product of the Year went to Hook, Line and Sinker for its Cornish hake with a smoked garlic butter. Ocado won Online retailer of the Year, while supplements brand Planet Paleo won Newcomer of the Year.