M&S launches digital map to boost seafood supply chain transparency
Marks & Spencer (M&S) has this week launched an interactive digital map that allows customers and shareholders to track the origin of its seafood products.
The company claims that its new seafood map is the first from a UK retailer to include information on both the capture or farming method and sustainability information for every fishery or farm.
Available as a free online tool, the map shows where the seafood was caught, the catch method used and whether the fishery is certified by an organisation such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
In cases where the fishery is not yet MSC-certified, the map includes information on what improvements are being made to boost sustainability. M&S currently sources 86% of its seafood from certified fisheries, with the rest coming from facilities that are engaged in fishery improvement projects (FIPs).
"We know much our customers care about responsible fishing, so we wanted to share with them all the data we have on where our fish comes from and how it is caught,” M&S’s marine biologist Hannah Macintyre said.
“Transparency is an important part of the trust that our customers and stakeholders put in us - that’s why we’ve published this smart tool which lays bare our whole fish supply chain, wherever it is in the world, and however it is fished or farmed.”
The map lists a total of 47 marine species across 71 fisheries, accounting for every kind of seafood that M&S uses in its product lines, from fish fillets to pre-made salads, sandwiches and ready meals.
The move was welcomed by WWF’s Seafood Manager Clarus Chu, who encouraged other businesses to follow suit in “taking a responsible approach” to seafood sourcing.
Interactive supply chain map
The launch of M&S’ seafood map comes as it strives to create an interactive digital supply chain map for all of its food products as part of the company’s Plan A sustainability strategy.
In 2016, the retailer launched the first of its digital mapping tools with a website listing the location of its beef and dairy farmers, as well as the methods of farming they are using.
The project has since been expanded to cover M&S’ wool suppliers and to list the location of all of its supplier factories.
A report commissioned recently by premium food supplier Cranswick predicted that heightened consumer demand for increased transparency would disrupt the food sector. Published in April, the report warned that customer trust in food companies had hit an “all-time low” and encouraged corporates to adopt an “open-kitchen” approach to transparency.