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Volumes of MSC labelled product also increased by 1%, rising to 154,543 tonnes

UK and Irish shoppers spent a record £1.3bn on Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fish and seafood last year, up 5% from the previous year.

Volumes of MSC labelled product also increased, by 1%, rising to 154,543 tonnes.

The NGO said the volume increase was largely due to particularly impressive growth in certified skipjack tuna sales, which nearly doubled over the year, thanks to more MSC labelled canned tuna becoming available at Aldi, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

MSC-labelled products accounted for an estimated 59% of the value and 58% of the volume of all wild caught fish and seafood sold in UK retail, in the period from April 2022 to March 2023.

This was up from 54% and 51% respectively the preceding year, which the organisation called a “promising rise” in MSC coverage.

“The 2023 edition of our Market Report highlights the progress that has been made by the fish and seafood industry in the UK and Ireland in furthering its commitment to championing sustainability in several areas,” said Seth McCurry, MSC UK & Ireland senior commercial manager.

Additionally, the variety of sustainably sourced species available to UK and Irish consumers continued to grow, with 53 different species sold compared to 49 last year and 32 10 years ago.

“We’ve seen more MSC certified tuna products available than ever before, and despite some changes to sourcing in whitefish mainstays like cod and haddock, supermarkets have continued to offer sustainable whitefish options, with a number of new coley and hake products hitting the market last year,” McCurry added.

MSC labelled frozen and preserved products saw growth, while chilled products witnessed the steepest decline in sales across all categories – a reflection of changing consumer preferences for more affordable products with longer shelf lives.

Whitefish remained dominant in the MSC landscape in the UK and Ireland, accounting for 59% of sales of MSC products in 2023.

Atlantic cod, walleye pollock, and haddock are the three most sold MSC species in the UK and Ireland by a distance, again.

“The growing availability of MSC certified species and products is great news for shoppers in the UK and Ireland, and even more encouraging while we’re all dealing with continued geopolitical and economic uncertainty,” said McCurry.