Packaging is the primary source of information for nearly half of customers in France and the Netherlands, a survey found. Photo: ASC

Responsible farming ‘a priority for European seafood consumers’

The majority of consumers in three major European countries believe that selling responsibly farmed seafood should be a top priority for supermarkets, according to survey findings published by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC).

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The accreditation organisation conducted research in France, Germany and the Netherlands to understand consumer perspectives on seafood and sustainability. In France 88% of consumers agree that it is important that supermarkets provide responsibly sourced farmed seafood, with 80% and 79% of consumers doing so in Germany and the Netherlands respectively.

“Our strong relationships with retailers in these countries indicate that many supermarkets have already realised the importance of offering responsibly sourced seafood, and these figures demonstrate the wisdom of this approach,” said ASC communications director Contessa Kellogg-Winters.

“It’s clear that consumers value the option of minimising their social and environmental impacts and we hope that retailers continue to respond to this demand.”

Preventing pollution

Consumers in all three countries also indicated the importance of a number of environmental and social issues when deciding which fish to buy. Over 80% of consumers in every country said that preventing pollution in the area around the farm is an important factor when they’re choosing farmed fish. Good working conditions for staff were also important for those choosing farmed fish (82% in Germany; 80% in France; 78% the Netherlands).

In France and the Netherlands packaging was the main way consumers get information about seafood products (46% and 43% respectively), highlighting the advantage of being able to display logos on packets. In Germany packaging was the second most important way that consumers get their information (40%) after television.

More certified fish sold

Consumers are buying more seafood that is certified than 12 months ago. In Germany and France 12% of shoppers are buying certified seafood more often, with 11% doing so in the Netherlands.

More information on the survey can be found here.

The ASC is the accreditation favoured by the world’s biggest salmon farmer, Marine Harvest, which is changing its name to Mowi from January 1. All of its new range of own-label Mowi-branded fish will be ASC-certified. This rules out Scottish farms for the time being, as MH Scotland’s use of freshwater lochs to grow smolts has prevented any of its sites being eligible for ASC approval. However, the company is confident that will change soon under a review of ASC rules.