Published 2 years ago.
About a 5 minute read.
Image: courtesy of Marine Stewardship Council
/ This article is sponsored by
Marine Stewardship Council.
Recent research shows that people’s awareness of the link between their personal wellness and that of the environment has increased. How can simple solutions make a big impact? When it comes to food, we need to make it easy for people to make smart, sustainable choices.
If I were to walk into your kitchen today, chances are I might find some frozen
fish in your freezer or canned seafood in your pantry. Was fish regularly on
your grocery list pre-pandemic, or are you among the many US shoppers who have
been buying more seafood during the
Food retailers reported impressive growth in sales in fresh and frozen seafood
in 2020 compared to years past, signaling that consumers may be getting a little
more adventurous in the kitchen and making seafood a regular part of their
cooking rotation. This is good news - we all know seafood is a healthy protein
and an essential part of a balanced diet. In fact, the new Dietary Guidelines
of America recommend eating seafood at
least two times per week.
There is another element to this uptick in seafood sales — consumers are
turning to seafood to reduce
their red-meat consumption for both health and environmental reasons. According
to a 2020
by leading research firm GlobeScan, people’s concerns about wellness and the
natural environment have increased; they understand how intricately their health
is connected to the health of the planet. As a result, people are asking more
questions about where products are coming from and if they were responsibly
sourced, knowing that their purchases have a direct impact on the environment.
This change in behavior is especially true for younger generations: 70 percent
of Gen Zers and 66 percent of Millennials are consistently more eager to make a
significant effort to become healthier and more environmentally
But some of these changes come at a cost: effort. The same study found that
people are more likely to alter behaviors or adopt new ones if they are
perceived as relatively easy to do.
How, in the face of climate change and other ecological disasters, can simple
solutions make a big impact? When it comes to food, we need to make it easy for
people to make smart, sustainable choices. Environmental labels on packaging are
one way that companies can help consumers navigate sustainable purchasing and
shop their values. Over half of US seafood
consumers report that ecolabels on
fish and seafood products raise their confidence and trust in the
MSC brand and retail partners have made good on consumer desires by sharing the
origin story of products online, and through clear and simple point-of-sale
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For seafood, sustainability means effective fisheries
healthy seafood stocks, and minimizing damage to ocean ecosystems. It means
traceable, transparent supply chains. In the last 30 years, as the global
population has increased, global seafood consumption has risen by 122 percent —
putting intense pressure on seafood stocks. Recent calculations show that if the
world’s fisheries had been better
in that timeframe, 16 million more tons of seafood could have been harvested
every year, helping to feed a growing population and placing less pressure on
fish stocks. Based on dietary guidelines, that amounts to being able to roughly
feed the equivalent of the populations of Florida, Texas and New
We’ve seen how effective fisheries management is helping stocks and ecosystems
to recover. It helped transform Patagonian toothfish — also known as
Chilean Seabass — from a fishery rife with illegal fishing in the ‘90s to
being certified sustainable within
a 10-year period, aided by the leadership of Whole Foods Market and its
marketing efforts. After years of improvements and setting a positive example,
the fish population returned to healthy levels, illegal fishing efforts dropped
off, and consumers and high-end chefs put the fish back on menus — rewarding the
now-sustainable fishery. Responsible, sustainable fishing could help safeguard
the number of fish that could be harvested in perpetuity; and can ensure seafood
is on people’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner plates for generations to come.
This is where conscious food consumers can play a big role. Shoppers are
becoming more discerning about product claims and hungry for information on
seafood sustainability. They want environmental claims to be backed up and have
third-party validation to reassure them that they’re making a good purchase
decision. They want transparency and traceability.
If we’re going to meet the seafood-two-times-a-week
we’re going to have to do it in a way that doesn’t continue to put pressure on
fish stocks. Seafood companies are opting to put the MSC blue fish logo on their
products to provide assurance to shoppers that the product has third-party
certification, comes from a sustainable source, and is traceable along the
supply chain — including companies such as Walmart, which committed to 100
for its private-label brand; or Conagra, whose brands Van de Kamp's and
Mrs. Paul's frozen fish fillets and fish sticks carry the
blue fish label.
Healthy and sustainable living doesn’t need to be complicated; in fact, we know
from GlobeScan’s research that messaging about sustainability commitments and
simplicity of actions is key for people to make lasting behavior changes. Simple
swaps — such as choosing MSC-certified seafood — when stocking their freezers
and pantries will help people meet their seafood nutrition goals, well as help
them leave a lighter footprint on the planet.
Published Mar 1, 2021 7am EST / 4am PST / 12pm GMT / 1pm CET
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.