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ASC announces annual award winners

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The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) has presented awards for the best seafood brand, retailer and retail supplier of 2023.

ASC presenting the ASC UK award for Brand of the Year to Mowi

© Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)

The ASC joined the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for the annual UK Awards to celebrate the responsible seafood sector’s success in 2023. Held at Fishmongers’ Hall in London on October 26, the ASC awards aim to promote those companies that it sees as making the greatest impact in driving sustainability within the aquaculture industry and boosting consumer demand for ASC labelled seafood.

The 2023 awards featured three categories, including debut award, ASC UK Brand of the Year, and previous accolades, ASC UK Retailer of the Year and ASC UK Retailer Supplier of the Year.

According to the ASC, the winning businesses meet the strictest requirements for responsibly farmed seafood that’s been produced with care for people and our planet.

ASC 2023 award results

ASC UK brand of the year

The ASC UK Brand of the Year was awarded to Scotland’s largest salmon producer, Mowi, for its growing drive to achieve ASC certification on its farms.

Nina Gomeche, brand manager at Mowi consumer products, said: “Mowi is delighted to receive this recognition of the brand and company going above and beyond as ASC Brand of the Year.

“We are proud to promote Mowi Scottish salmon to shoppers who are increasingly aware and concerned about the provenance, ethics and sustainability of the food they buy. This messaging helps the stores where we are listed to have a deeper connection and loyalty with their customers. Taking care from egg to plate, we also thank our dedicated farming colleagues to consistently deliver Mowi salmon to the tough standards of scrutiny from ASC.”

ASC UK retailer of the year

The ASC UK Retailer of the Year was awarded to Sainsbury’s, resulting from being the first UK supermarket to offer 100 percent of its fresh Scottish salmon as ASC certified in 2022.

Gavin Hodgson, director of agriculture, horticulture and aquaculture at Sainsbury’s, said: “This award is for everyone involved. It’s been a big team effort for a long time, and it’s required a lot of visionary people to be part of this - the Sainsbury’s team and a bigger team. So to have the recognition for winning an award that’s linked to responsible and sustainable sourcing is great for us and everybody that’s involved in it.”

ASC UK retail supplier of the year

The ASC UK Retail Supplier of the Year was awarded to the New England Seafood International (NESI) in recognition of its role in expanding the availability of certified responsible seafood and meeting growing consumer demand.

Ruth Hoban, head of sustainability for NESI, said: “NESI is delighted to have received the ASC UK Retailer Supplier of the Year award 2023 as nominated by Waitrose. This award acknowledges the amazing work carried out by our dedicated farming partners and the team at NESI towards responsible fish farming for now and well into the future. We are a real advocate for the ASC and their vision and working with a UK retail leader such as Waitrose means that we can collaboratively ensure UK consumers can enjoy responsibly sourced seafood.

“It is fantastic to be recognised by Waitrose for the work we do in aquaculture. Partnering with long-term suppliers, we are able to continuously drive improvements in the industry which are acknowledged through the standards set by the ASC.”

Growing range of ASC labelled seafood

Aisla Jones, ASC market development manager for the UK and Ireland, said: “The ASC awards were a fantastic opportunity for us to acknowledge and reward the hard work that our winning partners have put in over the past year to offer a growing range of ASC labelled seafood to shoppers in the UK.”

Alastair Dingwall, ASC senior director for technical operations, said: “Congratulations to Sainsbury’s, Mowi, and NESI for their well-deserved wins! These awards acknowledge the significant effort it takes for a retailer, brand, and supplier to commit to, and deliver, seafood that has met ASC’s highest standards. These commitments, along with those from a growing band of other processors, farmers, and retailers, will be the catalysts for future improvements of the local and global supply chains providing the UK with its seafood.”

Driving the UK’s growing demand for responsible seafood

In 2022, demand for ASC labelled consumer products rose by 62 percent, with the UK trending above the global average, which sits at a 14 percent year-on-year increase.

In a reflection of the growing consumer demand, 40 farm sites in the UK are now ASC certified - representing a 100 percent increase since February 2022. A further 18 farms are in initial audit stage, with a view to being certified by the end of 2023.