MCS ranks UK supermarkets on sustainability


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
December 12, 2011

How sustainable is supermarket seafood? According to a new survey from the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), only two UK supermarkets warrant recognition when it comes to sustainable seafood.

The “2011 Marine Conservation Society Supermarket Seafood Survey” assessed and scored supermarkets in four key areas: policy, seafood sales, labeling and consumer information, and sustainability initiatives.

Marks & Spencer came out on top, the only retailer to participate in the survey and receive a “gold” medal. Sainsbury’s and Waitrose picked up a “silver” medal. None of the other major supermarkets reached a level that merited an award, and some did not participate in the research at all, according to the MCS.

Marks & Spencer had a score of 84 percent, and the only negative against the retailer was for its labeling.

“Marks & Spencer has the most comprehensive seafood policy of all the retailers,” said MCS. “They do need to work on the labeling of their seafood products, as it can be hard to ascertain provenance in store. However, the rest of their consumer awareness is good.”

Sainsbury’s had a score of 74 percent, but the retailer needs to work on labeling, reducing the number of “avoid” fish and the fact that its policy only covers its own seafood brand.

Waitrose, at 72 percent, did not achieve high marks for its labeling and engagement in sustainability initiatives and was marked down for its policy, which also only covers its own seafood brand.

Tesco (64 percent), Iceland (58 percent), Morrisons (66 percent) and Booths (49 percent) received no awards. However, Morrisons received a commendation for best labeling, and Booths for most potential.

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