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Tuna Store Checks In EU-5 Show Surprising Results On Eco-label Use European Union, October 3, 13

Strong growth in the presence of seafood carrying the MSC eco-label has been revealed in a recent store check of EU supermarkets. In some supermarkets, at least 60 percent of frozen seafood checked displayed the logo, with increasing penetration also visible across the canned seafood sector. In all major wild seafood groups compared, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) eco-label had the least presence on canned and frozen tuna.

Henk Brus, Managing Director of Pacifical cv, presented a store check that covered canned and frozen wild seafood products in 26 different supermarkets across Germany, United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and Belgium. These 5 member states together are home to 46% of the EU population and the destination of 63% of all EU canned tuna imports. He presented the findings at the recent Pacific Tuna Forum in the Solomon Islands, which concluded that MSC penetration was showing strong growth in the EU.

Brus explained that there is “limited availability” of MSC certified tuna. He said: “There are currently only two options available, which are both pole and line caught: skipjack from the Maldives and albacore from the US, but the volume and regularity in supply is insufficient to meet the markets’ need.” He outlined, however, that the PNA MSC certified free school skipjack fishery has the potential of supplying up to 400,000 tons of Pacifical co-branded skipjack tuna. The fishery has suffered obstructions from Earth Island Institute (EII) to reach consumers.

MSC particularly showed impressive growth within Germany and the Netherlands, where Brus said it was “very clear that this was by far the most dominant eco-label in the market.”

Surprising results were revealed by the limited penetration of EII Dolphin-Safe logo in the EU-5 market. This program claims to represent over 90 percent of the world’s tuna canners, and while having a strong presence in the German market, its logo was hardly found in the other EU countries.

Brus said: “EII was strongly present in the German market, on all retailer private labeled tuna and the major tuna brand, Saupiquet.” He explained that this was probably due to the strong link between EII and German action group, Gesellschaft zur Rettung der Delphine – Rollo Gebhard, or Society for Dolphin Conservation Germany. The majority of retailers in other countries branded there private label tuna cans with their own dolphin friendly logo, rather than paying for the international registered “SAFE” trademark of EII.

Brus explained that the most remarkable finding for him was the low penetration of the Friend of the Sea (FOS) eco-label throughout the stores. In fact, across the 26 supermarkets in five countries, the FOS logo was only found in three supermarkets across two countries. “I found this surprising due to the vastness of the amount of companies, also in the tuna sector, being certified, and therefore I had not expected to find so few products to carry the FOS logo.”

Founded by Paolo Bray, European Director of EII’s Dolphin-Safe Project, FOS claims to be “a main international certification project for products originating from both sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.”
You can view the PDF of the PowerPoint presentation here.