Does the ‘sustainable seafood’ tag help in the selling of seafood
Last week we discussed the issue of traceability in the seafood industry and its importance in the drive for sustainability. However, ‘buy in’ has been relatively slow, the article again highlighting the reluctance of stakeholders. The important message in the article was that people see ‘sustainability’ as an additional cost, whereas the act of implementing a traceability system will actually see cost savings.
Three to four years ago, Hong Kong hosted a sustainable seafood conference. My major takeaway from that was how western supermarkets saw their role to educate consumers as to sustainability and the traceability of the seafood was a major part of the message. As I have previously reported, Hong Kong supermarkets generally pay lip service to sustainability. It is, however getting more traction nowadays, but that is more through the message of food safety, something that traceability and the chain of custody offers. So sustainable objectives are being somewhat met through an alternate message.
There are so many case studies available now on the effectiveness of the sustainable message. One of the more emphatic recent cases is that of Walmart stores that ran a targeted sustainable seafood campaign which resulted in a huge increase in fresh seafood sales. In spring this year, Walmart launched a massive store signage campaign for both fresh and frozen seafood “to communicate more clearly to customers the quality, value, and sustainability of the seafood they buy at Walmart. Stores running the campaign and investing in sustainable seafood space and product ranges saw a 25 percent improvement in fresh seafood sales compared to stores not promoting.
A representative from Walmart, Jacqui Lyons told the Food industry periodical, “Consumers are responding positively,” Lyons said. “Providing more transparency is clearly what the customer has been asking for and we will continue to find ways to do so.” Lyons also praised certification programs’ National Seafood Month consumer education initiatives, such as the Marine Stewardship Council’s "Good for You and the Ocean Too" campaign, which is focused on deepening understanding of its Blue Fish eco-label.
Generally people want to feel good about the products they buy, and it has to be the role of the retailers to deliver and offer access to safe, healthier, and affordable products in a way that is sustainable This is what Walmart do and why they encourage suppliers to certify their products and works with them to increase transparency and traceability back to products’ origins.” Again, Pacific Rich hammer the message, you the consumer must be educated and push your requirements onto the retailers. They in turn will cascade the message to their suppliers.
Make a difference. Look for that sustainability accredited product. Don’t buy anything else. There is more and more available in the market so don’t buy anything else.
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