Millennial seafood shoppers are more likely to choose ecolabelled fish than those older, while all shoppers’ spend on sustainable seafood has increased for a fourth year running, according to a report released by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
Not only are UK consumers spending more on sustainable seafood, it’s the millennials that have the strongest preference – with 52% of 18-34 year olds stating they prefer to choose ecolabelled fish and seafood. That’s in comparison to 37% of those over 55 years old in the UK. By choosing seafood with the blue MSC label shoppers are helping to protect oceans, livelihoods and fish for the future.
Shoppers’ spend on seafood in carrying the MSC ecolabel in the UK exceeded half a billion pounds (£754m) in the year 2016/17, a 48% increase on the £509m spent from the previous year 2015/16.
The figures, part a recent MSC report “From sustainable fishers to seafood lovers,” confirms MSC certified products are increasing 20% year on year – this increased choice has had an enormous impact on shopping habits. The MSC label can be found on a wide range of products from fresh, frozen and tinned fish to pet food, fish oil health supplements and baby food.
More brands and retailers are choosing to use the MSC label than ever before; Sainsbury’s leads the way in the UK, offering over 200 certified products – more MSC labelled products than any other national retailer worldwide. It is closely followed by Waitrose, Tesco (who introduced the blue label to over 600 fishmonger’s counters across country this year), Lidl, Aldi and Birds Eye.
The millennial generation is shaping the ‘eating out’ sector; it’s also become fastest growing customer segment within the hospitality industry. Leading restaurants such as Wahaca and McDonald’s, and even stores such as Ikea continue to make the commitment to certified sustainable seafood for their eco-conscious diners. Fish and chip shops are also upping their green credentials with now over 100 chippies in the UK using the ‘blue fish label’ on their fish, assuring customers that it’s been caught responsibly.
Danielle Pinnington, MD at shopper research agency Shoppercentric, says: “It is encouraging that millennials are demonstrating the kinds of attitudes that will push suppliers and retailers to take ethical sourcing seriously. There is plenty of evidence emerging that the younger generation of shoppers are interested in the provenance and ethics of the products they are buying.”
Toby Middleton, UK Programme Director for MSC says: “The fact is that UK shoppers value sustainable credentials above price and brand. We are delighted that the younger generation care about sustainable seafood – they are the shoppers of the future. With this year’s increase of restaurants, brands, and supermarkets using the MSC blue fish label, we can all help to drive sustainable fishing.”
Educating consumers and increasing public understanding of sustainable seafood is a vital part of MSC’s plans for 2018, says the report. Next year will see the launch of its ‘Keep it Wild – choose the blue fish’ campaign across the UK, that aims to reach consumers through joint partnerships, ambassadors and storytelling.
The report also outlines the MSC’s plans for the future, including an ambitious target to engage 20% of marine catch by 2020. Choosing MSC labelled seafood from fisheries, supermarkets, brands and restaurants helps to protect the life in our oceans for generations to come by ensuring sustainable fish that can be traced back to its source.
Read the MSC’s Annual Report: The MSC at 20. Wild. Certified. Sustainable
 Consumer Insight Report Globescan, 2016
 MSC ‘From Sustainable Fishers to Seafood Lovers: Annual report 2017-18’ NB retail sales are estimate based on a 40% mark-up on wholesale values
 What Millennial’s Want, Survey by Morgan Stanley (2016)