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Tough sustainability standards for our affordable, quality fish

Tim Smith

Group Quality Director
Welwyn Garden City, UK

22 Jul 2016

Customers want to buy the best quality fish, caught in a way that keeps fish stocks healthy and doesn’t harm the environment. We're helping to offer this.

Customers want to buy the best quality fish, caught in a way that keeps fish stocks healthy and doesn’t harm the environment. We're helping to offer this.

We’re not experts on all the complexities of global fishery management, but we are committed to working with the right suppliers and non-governmental organisations so we can provide our customers with high-quality sustainable seafood they want at affordable prices.

To help make sure we source from the right places, we have a longstanding collaboration with the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, an independent body of experts with a detailed knowledge of sustainable global fisheries. They help guide our decision making on which fisheries to source from, and they also have an important role in bringing stakeholders together to make collective improvements.

In April this year, we announced a brand new partnership with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The MSC sets the industry gold standard for sustainable fisheries, and since May this year we have launched over 80 new MSC eco-labelled seafood lines at Tesco. We’re pleased to have been named the MSC UK Newcomer of the Year in recognition of the progress we have made so far.

We also recently signed up to a major agreement between leading seafood retailers and suppliers that will protect the pristine areas of the Northern Barents Sea in the Arctic from the expansion of cod fisheries in the region.

This will all help us achieve our clear ambition for 100% of our seafood to be sourced sustainably – an ambition that can only be achieved with support from our partners and suppliers.

One of the most popular varieties of fish we sell is tuna. Since 2012 all our own-label tinned tuna sold in the UK has been fished using sustainable catch methods, a commitment we extended to all tuna used as an ingredient in our own-brand sandwiches, pastas and salads. The tuna sources we will accept are pole-and-line, FAD-Free and MSC certified – though to date all our own label canned tuna and tuna used as ingredient has been from pole-and-line fisheries since 2012.

We wanted to take our commitments on quality sustainable tuna further, and earlier this year we announced we would take steps to make sure all the tuna on our shelves - including branded tuna products – met our requirements, coming from pole and line, FAD-free or MSC certified fisheries. We said we would subject our branded suppliers’ sustainability plans to a review, to make sure they had credible plans in place to meet these requirements.

We have now completed our review, and as a result have decided to de-list a number of core John West lines with effect from the end of July. Our customers will still see some John West tuna products on our shelves, and we are working with John West on a plan for these remaining lines to be converted to sustainable tuna sources as soon as possible.

We are proud of the progress we have made so far, and are committed to continuing to work in partnership with John West, other brands and our NGO partners to do everything we can to make high-quality, sustainable fish available for our customers.

Our work on fish follows a series of measures we have taken that are designed to help build trusted and transparent partnerships with our suppliers and make sure more of our quality products are sourced sustainably.

Steps include guaranteed high value contracts for British potato growers, sustainable farming programmes for lamb farmers and producers of cheese, a Fair For Farmers Guarantee for fresh milk, and making sure that all the cocoa required for our own label chocolate sold in the UK will be from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ sources by the end of 2018.

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