Marine Stewardship Council launches strategy for Chinese retailers

Published on
July 7, 2021
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) held a recent meeting of retailers in southern China.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is seeking to increase its imprint on the Chinese retail scene with the introduction of a strategy document at a recent meeting of retailers in the country’s south.

The MSC Sustainable Seafood Procurement Strategy 2021 was launched at the recent annual purchasers summit organized by the China Chain Store and Franchise Association (CCFA) in Guizhou with a range of seafood import companies present to court retailers with MSC-certified products.

The conference met to discuss two themes: “Linking Offline and Online” and “Push the Dual Circulates” – a reference to a Chinese government effort to reduce dependency on export markets.

MSC has stressed the potential of its eco-label as a guarantor of food safety and quality in the Chinese market, with less emphasis on ocean or fishery sustainability – topics that have become infused with nationalism on Chinese social media after some of China’s distant-water fishery firms were censured in several regions for illegal fishing. 

The MSC label is being accepted by Chinese consumers as a guarantor of food safety, according to Xie Hong, the CEO of Ocean Gala, a seafood importer that recently launched a range of imported seafood for infants and mothers.

“There has been a greater acceptance of frozen and convenience seafood during the pandemic,” Xie told MSC’s China blog.

An Yan, the program director for the Marine Stewardship Council in China said awareness among Chinese consumers about the environmental impact of products is on the rise, aiding pick-up of the sustainable seafood movement in the country.

"This has become the fourth most-important factor in making seafood purchasing choices, after health benefits, food safety, and freshness - according to recent market research," An said. “The importance of protecting ocean health by making sustainable seafood choices remains at the forefront of the MSC’s message. Our marketing activities around the ecolabel aim to improve Chinese consumer’s understanding of seafood sustainability, including the fact that our chain of custody standard guarantees that MSC-labeled products come from a well-managed, sustainable fishery.”

Fujian-based aquaculture firm Bei Ji Xing Biotechnology also exhibited at the event. The company distributes packaged frozen Norwegian cod under the Himeway brand. A major producer of yellow croaker, the firm has embraced MSC-certified imports for distribution to infants and white-collar workers, according to CEO Liu Chuan Rui.

MSC has previously met with the CCFA, synching with the organization’s aim to build out own-label offerings at the company’s 2020 Private Brand Conference, which also saw the launch of the MSC Private Label Brand Development and Sustainable Seafood Report.

Photo courtesy of Marine Stewardship Council

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