Two-thirds of Irish consumers seek eco-labels on seafood

A new YouGov survey of more than 2000 consumers in Ireland, found 47% of respondents said that the price of fish is important to them when purchasing seafood



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13 June 2024

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More than two thirds (68%) of fish and seafood consumers in Ireland look for an ecolabel when shopping, according to a new survey conducted by YouGov for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The survey was released to mark World Oceans Day, which recently fell on 8 June.

The survey, of more than 2000 consumers in Ireland, who were questioned in April 2024, found that 68% of consumers in Ireland look for eco-labelled products, such as those certified by the MSC, when shopping for fish and eating at restaurants.

This is alongside concerns about rising costs: 47% of respondents also said that the price of fish is important to them when purchasing seafood, making it the second biggest concern for consumers this year, just after freshness at 52%, having risen from the fifth most important in 2021, correlating with the cost-of-living crisis.

The survey also found that 49% of respondents eat seafood at least once a week and that most buy their products from supermarkets rather than independents and fishmongers.

Of those surveyed, 83% agreed that supermarket claims are reinforced by independent organisations. This included those who do and don’t consume seafood – showing an overall awareness of the importance of organisations such as the MSC.

General perspectives

When asked about general perspectives of ocean sustainability, a majority agreed that factors such as consuming only from sustainable sources (81%), switching to different species to support sustainability (75%), and the traceability of fish consumed (82%) are important. Crucially, nearly three-quarters (72%) recognise that the choices they make regarding buying fish and seafood can make a difference to the health of the oceans.

The survey included respondents who don’t buy or eat fish, showing an increased general awareness amongst Irish consumers of the effects of climate change on the ocean (37% up from 28% in 2021), and the impact of rising sea levels (an increase from 13% to 24% since 2021).

Seth McCurry, senior commercial manager, MSC UK & Ireland, said: “This research confirms that there is increasing public concern around ocean health. There are steps we and the consumer can take to protect biodiversity, and it is evident that the majority are aware of those. Amidst all the global environmental concerns such as rising sea levels and climate change, it is more important than ever that we continue to support sustainable fishing practices, work together to tackle over-fishing and make sure that we are making conscious choices to protect such a valuable food source.

“And for environmentally-conscious shoppers, the good news is there are over 350 different MSC labelled fish and seafood products available in Ireland, with Tesco, Aldi and Lidl all offering a wide range to choose from across different product formats and price ranges That includes everything from cod, haddock and salmon, to shellfish like cold-water prawns and Irish mussels.”

MSC estimates that an extra 16 million tonnes of wild seafood could be harvested each year if global fisheries were better managed. This would meet the protein needs of 72 million people, while also significantly reducing iron and vitamin deficiencies.

Read more: Aldi named ‘Ireland’s top brand’ by YouGov



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