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Consumers expect retailers to help them source sustainable seafoods

Latest seafood report shows that the onus is on retailers to help consumers source more sustainably harvested seafoods.

Consumers create demand, but suppliers and retailers hold the positive power to shift what they source and sell to be more sustainable. This is a key message in the latest WWF-SASSI Retailer/Supplier Participation Scheme Report.

In a survey probing consumer attitudes towards marine environmentalism, consumers said they rely heavily on retailers to ensure that seafood on the market is harvested responsibly. The consumers felt it was imperative that useful information be made available at the point of sale.

Over 50% of 729 consumers surveyed highly rated “knowledgeable staff at restaurants and retailers” as an aspect that would make it easier to choose and consume sustainable seafood. Retailers also needed to focus on labelling seafood products clearly and properly while using in-store signage to help guide buyers in making better choices.

The results of the consumer survey can be found in the report titled “Oceans of change: weathering storms”, which includes a special focus on the role that our oceans play in reducing carbon emissions and the effects of climate change.

The release of this report comes amid a heightened global awareness of the need to protect our shared oceans. In June 2022, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “Sadly, we have taken the ocean for granted, and today we face what I would call an ocean emergency. We must turn the tide. A healthy and productive ocean is vital to our shared future.”

On a local level, this call is supported through the practical business-focused seafood scheme to address some critical ocean issues. WWF South Africa’s SASSI manager Pavs Pillay commented: “We need the private sector to invest in a sustainable blue economy, support blue carbon efforts and help build resilient, local supply chains. We need decisive action to ensure a healthy and productive ocean for our shared future.”

More about the WWF-SASSI Retailer/Supplier Participation Scheme

In the mid-2000s, WWF and its Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (WWF-SASSI) established a voluntary business platform: the WWF-SASSI Retailer/Supplier Participation Scheme. The scheme engages South Africa’s top seafood vendors to adopt sustainable seafood practices within their businesses to help address current issues facing our oceans.

The participants are Atlantis Food Group, John Dory’s, Food Lover’s Market, Ocean Basket, Pick n Pay, Shoprite Holdings Group, The Spar Group Ltd and Woolworths. They have all committed to make long-term changes that will help to protect vital marine ecosystems, combat illegal, unreported and regulated (IUU) fishing, and build resilient seafood supply chains. In turn, the scheme aims to shift consumer diets, support local communities, improve food security and help address climate change.
The retailer report also highlights consumer trends.

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