UK’s largest foodservice firm commits to sustainable seafood pledge

Compass UK & Ireland is the first major food foodservice company to join the Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC), committing to voluntary codes of conduct regarding the sourcing and labelling of all seafood products.

By joining the SSC, Compass must ensure that all fish products are sourced with environmental responsibility in mind, and that this is made clear on products with food labels. Compass joins retailers and brands such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Birds Eye UK in joining the coalition.

SSC coordinator Katie Miller said: “Having Compass Group UK & Ireland join the SSC is fantastic as more people across the UK will be eating responsibly sourced fish. Compass is leading the way for other major foodservice businesses to step up their public commitments to seafood sustainability.” 

The coalition is a partnership of UK businesses aiming to ensure that all fish and seafood sold in the UK comes from sustainable sources. Compass’s commitment to the SSC was described by the organisation as “a huge step for the SSC codes’ recognition”.

With more than 60,000 workers, Compass is the UK’s largest foodservice company and works on sports events, military bases, schools and care homes across 15,000 locations in the UK.

Compass Group’s head of corporate responsibility Duncan Gray said: “We’re proud to now be members of the Sustainable Seafood Coalition and extend our dedication to only using fish that is sourced responsibly across our business.”

Teach a man to fish

Research has found that the overwhelming majority of seafood products in UK supermarkets are now responsibly sourced and labelled consistently in line with industry guidelines. The research, from environmental law firm ClientEarth, noted that clear and consistent labelling has increased by 15% since the SSC was founded in 2011.

Last week, North Sea cod was certified as sustainable for the first time in 20 years, adding to the products that have been safeguarded through the SSC. Improved management practices and business investment have helped save stocks from collapse. However, the SSC is still concerned about certain fish stocks like seabass.

Last month, nine major seafood companies, with a combined annual revenue of around £23bn, committed to establish sustainable supply chains through the prevention of prohibited activities such as overfishing. The pledge was built on the concern that around 20% of fish caught are the product of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

British supermarkets Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer (M&S) are among a cross-sector cluster of organisations that have voluntarily signed an agreement to protect a key Arctic region from industrial fishing. The list of signatories also includes Asda, Morrisons, McDonald’s, Birds Eye and Young’s Seafood.

Matt Mace

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