Senior Director for Sustainability, Chris Brown, explains how Asda is bringing transparency to its own-brand seafood supply chain…
In the last 10 years’ sustainability has gone from being a niche concern to a national conversation. Customers want greater visibility of where their food comes from, how supermarkets process this and how their farming and fishing methods impact on the environment.
In 2015 Asda was the first UK supermarket to reveal the source of all wild caught seafood used in its own-brand products through the Ocean Disclosure Project (ODP)* database. This week that commitment has been extended to farmed fish, increasing the transparency of Asda’s supply chain and allowing customers to trace the fish on their plate back to the fishery.
To go even further, this year we became the first supermarket to publish specific vessel information for boats that catch plaice, haddock and cod. For the first time, customers have visibility of not just where we source our fish from, but which boats have landed the catch for us.
Transparency, ethical certifications and sustainable sourcing has been a key focus at Asda for some time. Instead of one ‘big bang’ moment, we take small steps every day to improve the way we source our products, which will help us to achieve our big environmental commitments.
It’s important that we source our farmed and wild-caught fish from well-managed fisheries that conserve ocean biodiversity. By publishing sourcing details of all our own-brand farmed seafood, we are extending the commitment we made earlier this year and hope that other retailers and brands will follow suit.
It’s an area where we’ve consistently led the industry. The inclusion of farmed seafood in our ODP profile** marks another step forward in providing our customers with clear and open information, so they can trust in what they buy from Asda.
If customers wish, they can now view how we manage our supply chain, the fishing techniques used and the environmental impact of all of the farmed and wild-caught seafood used in Asda’s own-brand products. In extending this to farmed seafood - including shellfish – Asda’s profile also includes information about whether the source is certified to a recognised standard, has an impact on wild species and details the quality of the water.
Of course, there are some areas where we are not currently able to provide information, such as ingredients in stocks, soups and bullions, but these make up only a small percentage of our own-brand product. All other own-brand products containing common seafood species such as plaice, haddock, cod, Atlantic salmon and European seabass, are traceable via the ODP.
Further to this, the ODP and Asda also provide International Maritime Organisation (IMO) numbers where available, allowing customers to physically track each vessel by name and country of origin if they so wish.
Last year 90% of Asda’s wild-caught and farmed seafood came from sources certified as sustainable or responsibly farmed, which for a business of our size is remarkable and something we are looking to constantly improve upon. A further 3% of our own-brand seafood comes from fisheries in Fishery Improvement Projects.
We are taking steps forward every day to demonstrate responsible management of wild and farmed fish stocks and sustainable practices. Wherever possible we provide details of recognised standards, certifications and quality marks across all of our own-brand produce and will continue to do so.
We’re not perfect, but we don’t believe in ‘greenwashing’ our products either. Hopefully we show our customers that we are committed to providing quality and long-term sustainability at an affordable price.
* The ODP was started in 2015 by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership as a resource for responsible seafood consumers and others interested in sustainability. Other ODP participants include; Walmart US, Walmart Canada, Co-op Food, Lidl UK, Morrisons, and Tesco.
**Asda’s full profile can be viewed at: https://oceandisclosureproject.org/companies/asda