Fisheries sustainability "too complex" for consumer says Waitrose
October 16 2012 Lewis Smith
Consumer attitudes are irrelevant in the drive towards sustainability, a senior supermarket executive has suggested.
Quentin Clark, head of sustainability and ethical sourcing at Waitrose, said the issues involved sustainable fishing are “too complex” for consumers to understand.
Instead, he told a forum on fisheries, customers need to trust businesses such as Waitrose to make sustainable selections for them. Retailers must, he said, “choice edit” on behalf of the consumer.
Choosing fish sustainably, he said, is an issue that businesses can take on but for the general public it is too complicated and should be left to businesses.
He said it is no different to the way drivers rarely know what specification airbag they have in their cars but are prepared to take it on trust that the right one has been installed.
He suggested: “The consumer attitude is irrelevant in the debate and the responsibility lies with and has to be developed by business and by business influencing legislation."
Mr Clark also warned that unless sustainability is treated seriously by businesses there is a danger fish stocks will dry up, with impacts on the whole of society. “Not having a sustainable supply of fish is going to have consequences well, well beyond any impact on the eco-system. Economically, it would be a total disaster, culturally it would be a total disaster,” he said.
Peter Hagipieris, chief technical and sustainability officer at Iglo Foods, which trades as Birds Eye in the UK, said consumers will determine the price they are willing to pay and the quality of food for themselves but that they rely on retailers for sustainability.
“Consumers look to us to solve some of the issues for them. They look to us to solve the issue of sustainability,” he told the Westminster Food and Nutrition Forum in London.
However, Doug Wright, executive head chef at Loch Fyne restaurants, said it is important to get customers interested in where their fish come from. “Our customers are still fearful of the unknown. They don’t like to ask questions. It’s not an easy job in the restaurant industry educating consumers but it’s one we are working on,” he told the conference.
“All the important research we’ve done so far shows people want to eat fish more often and they want to be educated about fish. How can we give them a bit of a leg-up, how can we help them?
“They weren’t coming to us because we were sustainable, they were coming to us because of our seafood. We had to see the passion for seafood among our guests. We didn’t want to talk down to them but we have to inform them what’s right and what’s wrong. We wanted them to ask questions. We had to make seafood the hero.
“The key factor to achieving all of this was staff. We had to educate and inspire our staff to get the passion across to the guests.”
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2 Responses to "Fisheries sustainability "too complex" for consumer says Waitrose"
Dr. R. Boddeke Says:
Sustaiinability is a non-item in fisheries. Commercial fishing increases the productivity of stocks by replacing slow growing old fish, by faster growing younger ones.
In the rare cases of recruitment overfishing efficient management has been adopted.
Commercial fish farms spread disease eg lice, escaped farm fish interbreed with and wipe out wild stocks of fish. Trawling to feed tank-farmed fish is unsustainable. The fishing industry must get a grip, or the party will be over for everyone.
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