Huge momentum is now building up behind the MSC’s certification of and eco-labelling for environmentally responsible and sustainable fisheries. More than 40 fisheries are now engaged in the programme and the range, volume and availability of labelled product on the market are set to increase further as many of the fisheries under full assessment near the end of their evaluations.
This month, the Hastings mackerel, herring and Dover sole fisheries have been awarded the MSC certificate.
It’s all a far cry from the early days of independence for the MSC, associated with the seemingly intractable problem of ‘no supply, no market; no market, no supply.’
Market demand for MSC-labelled product is also increasing, particularly in Europe, as the business case for certification becomes stronger. There are now nearly 300 MSC-labelled products available in 24 countries.
Labelled seafood sales will increase further as products from two high-volume and recently certified fisheries, South African hake and the world’s second-largest fishery, the Alaskan pollock fishery, begin to reach the market.
The certification of Alaskan pollock, will enable Unilever, for example, to increase the volume of MSC-certified products from under 5% of the company’s sales by volume to 30% in much of Europe (and more than 40% in Germany).
The MSC could indeed be approaching a tipping point in terms of creating a self-sustaining momentum of ‘supply push’, as more fisheries come forward for assessment, and ‘demand pull’ as consumers, whether business-to-business or final consumers, begin to demand sustainable seafood choices more forcefully.
Unilever’s recent consumer research has shown a third of consumers would be more likely to make sustainable choices given the right information. The MSC’s label gives them that, while support for our programme enables retailers to demonstrate corporate responsibility and leadership in relation to seafood sourcing.
Would you like to write a Talking Point? We’re looking for contributions covering hot topics in the meat, fish and fresh produce supply chains
Email or call him on 01293 610404