Premier Inn pledges to deliver three million sustainable fish and chip meals

Premier Inn has become the world's largest Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified national hotel chain, meaning an extra three million sustainable portions of fish and chips will be served across the UK each year.

The company’s major brands, such as Beefeater, Brewer’s Fayre and Table Table, will feature the MSC ‘blue tick’ on menus at 635 locations. This certifies that seafood such as pollock, haddock and cod have been responsibly caught by a fishery that meets the MSC’s strict sustainability standards.

The MSC label can already be found in a range of other outlets, but the move by owners Whitbread will result in an 27% overall increase of MSC-certified sites in Britain.

Whitbread’s director of sustainability James Pitcher said: “It is becoming ever more important for the hospitality industry to operate a sustainable, traceable supply chain and it is something we have been focusing on for a while now. Our customers expect us to do the right thing, so we are immensely proud to have achieved MSC certification for our restaurant brands.

“Whitbread is committed to sourcing products responsibly and we hope this will be a landmark step in helping set standards across the industry. The MSC’s certification and eco-labelling program enables everybody to play a part in securing a healthy future for our oceans.”

Sustainable choices

The hospitality and retail sectors are gradually coming together to drive up demand for traceable, sustainable seafood. A recent report revealed that the volume of MSC-certified catch increased by 6% to 9.3 million tonnes of seafood in 2015-16, thanks to growing market engagement of the seafood supply chain to source sustainably. 

Whitbread’s announcement means there are now more than 2,000 restaurant locations across the UK serving MSC-certified traceable and sustainable seafood.

Commenting on the news, MSC UK’s commercial manager George Clark said: “It’s great news that UK diners have more sustainable choices when eating out. Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table, and all our other certified restaurants are doing a great job of making eating-out more sustainable.

“Casual lunches, fish and chip suppers, slap-up dinners and even room service; all of these can now include MSC certified fish. Looking for the MSC ‘blue tick’ ecolabel on menus will ensure your fish has been sustainably caught and help protect our oceans for the future.”

Reeling in responsibility

Sustainable fishing gained a boost in January when the UK launched the latest phase of its proposals to help achieve sustainable fishing levels by 2020. Moreover, cross-sector companies have stepped up collaborative efforts in recent times; Asda, Marks & Spencer (M&S), McDonald’s and Birds Eye have all voluntarily signed an agreement to protect a key Arctic region from industrial fishing.

M&S last year made an industry-leading commitment to support and improve the environmental sustainability of the fishing sector by signing up to the UK’s Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS), which provides a set of guidelines for supplier vessels and skippers.

Lidl, meanwhile, became the first British retailer to stock MSC-certified lobster in 2015, and was recently listed among the nation’s top retailers for MSC sustainable seafood. Elsewhere, Sainsbury’s has pioneered a certified sustainable tuna sandwich as part of its on-going efforts to deliver more sustainable seafood.

George Ogleby

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