Alaska pollock sector welcomes MSC eco-label push from McDonald’s China

McDonald's China and the Marine Stewardship Council announcing a partnership.

McDonald’s China recently announced that it will now include the blue Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) eco-label on its Filet-o-Fish sandwiches, Double Fish burgers, and Kids Fish Fillet burgers, served in more than 5,000 restaurants nationwide.

The initiative, according to Gu Lei, chief impact officer of McDonald’s China, “will continue to help protect the vitality of the ocean.” Gu described McDonald's China as “actively building a sustainable supply chain to reduce damage to the environment through its seafood procurement.”

McDonald’s has been serving MSC-certified fish, the majority of which is Alaska pollock, at U.S. and U.K. locations for over a decade now. Partnering with McDonald’s China is part of the MSC’s push to increase the number of certified products sold in the country, according to MSC China Program Representative An Yan.

In the 10 years since it opened an office in China, the number of MSC-labeled products in the country has increased from 10 to around 300, and MSC’s goal is to increase that number to 1,000 by 2030. Yan told SeafoodSource her office is working closely with Chinese seafood processors and retailers through frequent collaboration with the China Chain Store and Franchise Association (CCFA) to achieve that long-term plan.

Alaska pollock producers have welcomed the move, including Craig A. Morris, CEO of the Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers (GAPP), who expects the initiative to net higher prices for his members. Morris has already seen the measurable gains that MSC certification offers and he said an ongoing global push toward sustainability will only increase that growth.

“All U.S.-caught wild Alaska pollock is both MSC- and Responsible Fisheries Management-certified sustainable, so, any movements by major customers toward [purchasing from] certified sustainable fisheries like the U.S.-caught wild Alaska pollock fishery is beneficial to GAPP’s members,” Morris said. “In 2020, we conducted a study with Cornell University that showed the U.S. wild Alaska pollock fishery’s MSC certification lifted our block price by 3.4 percent in large measure because it gave us access to important customers like McDonald’s that were requiring MSC certification in their various global supply sourcing programs.”

Francois Mosnier, head of the oceans program at nonprofit financial think tank Planet Finance, said the low barriers around pollock sustainability grants McDonald’s

Photo courtesy of McDonald's China

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