Sainsbury’s named UK’s No. 1 sustainable seafood retailer

Published on
February 1, 2016

Discount supermarket chain Lidl has more than doubled its range of sustainably sourced seafood over the past year to become the United Kingdom’s third largest retailer of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified produce, behind Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, who have both strengthened their sustainable seafood offers, according to new figures from the MSC.

More than half of Lidl’s wild-caught seafood range – 79 out of 148 products – now carries MSC’s eco-label.

Sainsbury’s remains the country's leading retailer of MSC-certified seafood, a position it has held for six years. It now sells 200 MSC labeled products, which is more than twice the number offered by any other U.K. retailer. Currently, 76 percent of Sainsbury’s wild-caught seafood has been MSC certified as sustainable, and the supermarket has made a commitment to independently certify 100 percent of its seafood as sustainable by 2020.

With a range of 86 MSC-certified products, Waitrose takes second place in the MSC’s supermarket league table.

Aldi also increased its commitment to eco-labeled seafood last year and now offers 54 MSC-certified products.

“Sainsbury’s and Waitrose have long been committed to sourcing seafood that has been independently certified as sustainable, and it’s great to see Lidl and Aldi following suit as they grow their market share and seek to get more customers through their doors,” said Toby Middleton, MSC’s program director for the U.K. & North East Atlantic.

“As well as helping to safeguard our oceans for the future, it means shoppers can find a wide range of sustainably sourced seafood at a price to suit all budgets – whether they’re picking up a pack of fish fingers for the family’s evening meal, or shelling out for a lobster for a special occasion,” he said. 

MSC highlighted that three of the UK’s biggest supermarkets – Asda, Morrisons and Tesco – along with Marks & Spencer (M&S), sell fewer MSC-certified seafood products now than they did a year ago, despite independent consumer research, carried out in 2014, that found 71 percent of U.K. adults agreed that it was important for supermarkets to sell sustainably caught seafood, and that consumers are more likely to trust independent eco-labels than brands’ own sustainability claims.

“Lots of products come with sustainability claims, but when shoppers choose fish or seafood with the MSC eco-label, they have an independent assurance that it has been fished responsibly and is traceable from ocean to plate, and they don’t have to simply take the retailer’s word for it,” said Middleton.

MSC said U.K. shoppers could now choose from more than 1,100 MSC labeled products, more than twice as many as in 2012.

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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