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Seafood shoppers value ocean health over pocket savings

Katie Roche

MSC's UK PR Consultant

  • Despite food prices rising, seafood shoppers choose sustainability over price 
  • Three quarters of seafood consumers (77%) want sustainability claims independently verified – up from 70% two years ago
  • Plastic pollution and overfishing are the most concerning ocean issues 

The Marine Stewardship Council has commissioned a study that reveals the habits of British seafood consumers. The study found that shoppers choose sustainability over price when buying seafood, despite squeezed budgets with food prices rising throughout the year in Britain. 

Conducted by research agency GlobeScan, the survey also reveals seafood shoppers demand independent verification of sustainability claims in supermarkets - with three quarters (77%) saying supermarkets’ and brands’ claims about sustainability need to be clearly labelled by an independent organisation.

Concerns about overfishing came second only to plastic pollution, and three quarters (75%) of consumers believe that people should be prepared to switch to another type of fish if it is more sustainable. 

In a climate of low consumer trust in business and government, trust in the blue MSC label remains high at 68%. Two thirds of British consumers (65%) see NGOs and scientists as contributing the most to protecting oceans.

According to the Globescan study, nearly all consumers (94%) purchase seafood at supermarkets. And although the study also shows that just 11% believe that large companies are contributing to protecting the oceans, retailers are increasingly challenging this by promoting sustainable fishing and switching to certified sustainable options. Over the last year, spend on certified MSC-labelled seafood in supermarkets jumped over 30%.

George Clark, Senior Commercial Manager, UK & Ireland: “This survey shows that consumers really do care about protecting our oceans. With rising food prices and shoppers clearly choosing sustainability over price, it’s great to see British consumers sticking to their values and UK retailers delivering more products than ever with the blue fish label. Trust is vital and with over three quarters of UK shoppers wanting independent labelling on sustainability claims when they purchase, we’re really pleased to see that trust in the MSC label specifically remains high."

Future generations 
GlobeScan’s tracking of consumer attitudes shows that the proportion of people who believe their children and grandchildren will have a better quality of life than them has dropped. The MSC-commissioned research reflects this concern for the future, with 83% of seafood consumers agreeing that we need to protect seafood for future generations. 

The survey also revealed that more than half (57%) of British consumers eat fish at home every week and a further third (32%) of shoppers purchase fish from the fish and chip shop.