MSC dubs EU market as its ‘powerhouse’ 

The strength of the European market is the top driving force behind the growth of the Marine Stewardship Council’s eco-label, leaders of the sustainable seafood organization said on Wednesday as it released its Global Impacts Report.

Rupert Howes, CEO of the MSC, told attendees of its annual update at Seafood Expo Global in Brussels, Belgium, that the future of the seas is garnering attention at the highest levels.

“It’s so clear that the oceans and seafood sustainability is going up everyone’s agenda, and increasingly the political agenda,” he said, as the 13.1 percent price premium on MSC-labeled products will attest.

There are now 15,503 consumer-facing products in 100 countries bearing the MSC label, worth about $4.5 billion and representing 510,000 metric tons of product, or 10.5 percent of global fishery production.

Nowhere is the price premium for MSC-labeled product more noticeable than in Europe. Nicolas Guichoux, global commercial director for MSC, called Germany a “powerhouse” ambassador for the brand, as more than 5,700 products are sold in German retail outlets and restaurants. In fact, according to its own research, Germany was the only country in 2012 to have more than 50 percent of seafood consumers recognizing the label, well above the global average.

The Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States, France and Austria are the other leading markets for the MSC.

Guichoux also recognized two retailers for their commitment to the brand. Carrefour this year committed to doubling the number of certified products it offers, to a total of 50, while Waitrose pledged to have 100 percent commitment to the label by 2016. The retailer also reported a 40 percent increase in sales of skipjack tuna since adding the MSC eco-label.

The power of the label is not only measured in sales, said Guichoux, pointing out that Vietnam’s Ben Tre clam fishery has seen a tremendous economic boost as a result of certification. Harvesters there have witnessed a 400 percent increase in income since earning certification.

“Together, we’re making a global impact, with positive environmental and economic impacts and a positive image for the fishing sector,” said Guichoux.


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