Sainsbury’s moves 46mt of ‘alternative’ finfish

On the heels of its “Switch the Fish” campaign — and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight initiative, which returns to TV on Monday with a 60-minute episode titled “Hugh’s Fish Fight: The Battle Continues” — Sainsbury’s on Sunday reported that it has sold an additional 46 metric tons of “alternative” finfish species since its campaign launched in mid-June.

The UK retailer’s campaign challenged its customers to try an alternative species in place of a “Big 5” species. Customers who asked for cod, haddock, tuna, salmon or prawns were offered one free portion of coley, hake, mackerel, megrim, pouting or rainbow trout.

And the campaign was a hit, as coley sales increased 11.4 percent and rainbow trout jumped an impressive 42 percent. Sainsbury’s move 8 metric tons of megrim, a finfish that 85 percent of British consumers had never heard of before the campaign, according to a poll commissioned exclusively for the retailer. Also, more than half of the retailer’s Switch the Fish customers have since returned to the seafood counter.

The initiative, which kicked off on 17 June and ran through the end of July, was supported by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and featured a Switch the Fish van that’s traveled across the United Kingdom, stopping in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh, among other cities.

“The success of our Switch the Fish campaign shows that, when customers are offered choice on the issue of sustainability, they are willing to try alternatives and help alleviate pressure on fish stocks,” said Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King. “Retailers play a vital role in helping consumers make sustainable choices and I am proud that Sainsbury's continues to lead the industry in this way.”

Another celebrity chef, Fearnley-Whittingstall, is back on the UK’s Channel 4 tonight as part of his strategy to gain European-wide support for the European Commission’s recently unveiled proposals for reform to the Common Fisheries Policy, including an outright ban on discarding fish at sea. Tonight’s episode is sure to boost sales of alternative species at Sainsbury’s and other UK retailers.

Sainsbury’s, which operates more than 550 supermarkets across the UK, has been publicizing its sustainable seafood efforts for months. It claims to be the UK’s No. 1 retailer of Marine Stewardship Council-certified seafood, with more than 80 eco-labeled products.


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