THE seafood sustainability message was still not fully getting through to the public, Toby Middleton, the Marine Stewardship Council’s Country manager said in Grimsby.
Speaking at the opening of the opening of the Humber Seafood Summit, he argued there was a need for the industry to transform the way in communicated with the consumer.
Mr Middleton outlined the challenges facing the industry, arguing that the idea of fish continuing as an abundant life form into the future was a very powerful one.
“The seafood industry has made huge strides in the past few years and this is a positive message from our industry. But we are not engaging the consumers with that (message) and it presents a risk. “
Because the industry was not presenting the sustainability message strongly enough, shoppers were not asking for it. Mr Middleton praised companies like saucy fish and Birds Eye for their advertising messages, adding that more needed to be done.
Yet seafood had a huge and interesting story to tell on this issue. Mr Middleton said that is the sustainability message was coming across as being confused then the industry was failing in its efforts.
Too often price, freshness and quality was more important than sustainability. Mr Middleton said other industries were focusing a strong message through various certification on issues like low emissions ( for cars) and low energy usage (appliances).
“If the same applied to seafood and sustainability we would have a triple A rating,” he maintained.
He also conceded that with different fishing grounds in various parts of the world,it was difficult to get a single message across.
“But if we don’t explain the message properly, people will not buy into it,” Toby Middleton concluded.
The 200 strong audience to the fourth Humber Seafood Summit, were welcomed by Anita Barker, chairman of the Humber Seafood group. She said it had been an eventful year that had presented many challenges.
This year’s conference, she added would focus on sustainability, integrity and delivering the type of fish consumers wanted - and at a price they could afford.
Opening the main conference the following day, she said the Humber Seafood Group was a unique body which brought the local industry together to promote excellence.
It was actively working the local enterprise partnerships and local authorities to present its needs in order to attract funding.
And it had established strong links with educational establishment such as the Grimsby Institute to ensure there were courses relevant to the seafood industry.
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