The move builds on the long established (15 years) Waitrose Responsible Fish Sourcing Policy. And as well as providing customers with extra assurance that their fish is from responsible sources, it will also enable the retailer to ensure a longer-term guarantee of sustainability in the face of increasing global pressure on fish stocks.
Waitrose Fish Buyer, Jeremy Langley, said: “For us, this pledge feels like a natural evolution of our long-standing responsible fishing policy. We started to have concerns over stocks of some of our favourite fish in 1997 - we thought this was something we needed to look at so we started work building a policy with our suppliers.
“Our Waitrose policies have been evolving for more than 15 years, and will continue to evolve. But - with global demand for fish increasing, and the size of our business increasing - we need to ensure we’re putting the right steps in place now if we’re to ensure a sustainable supply of fish in the decades to come.”
Waitrose sells 12 per cent of the fish bought in British supermarkets (Nielsen) - so its actions have the potential to significantly influence the seafood market.
Cod and haddock
The first major change will be all Waitrose fresh, smoked and breaded cod and haddock, which from 6th May will be certified as sustainable by the MSC, famous for its well-recognised blue tick logo.
Mr Langley commented: “This is a major step in our pledge to become 100 per cent fully certified by 2016. And being two of the ‘big five’ species, cod and haddock account for a significant proportion of our sales so it’s a satisfying step forward.”
Toby Middleton, MSC UK Country Manager, said: “This in a hugely significant move by Waitrose and we’re delighted that MSC certified seafood is playing such a key role in help Waitrose achieve their target. By committing to full independent seafood certification by the end of 2016, they are helping to drive the transformation of the seafood market around the world. Cod and haddock are hugely important to British shoppers and, despite the abundance in many stocks, cod is still an iconic poster-child for seafood’s sustainability challenges. By adding MSC certification to all of their fresh, smoked and breaded cod and haddock, Waitrose are helping to drive demand for certified sustainable seafood and, in turn, having a direct impact on improving the sustainability of the worlds’ oceans.”
The Waitrose announcement to source only independently certified fish is one of 12 CSR pledges launching publicly today (2 May) as the Waitrose Way Commitments.
The Commitments span the four ‘Waitrose Way’ CSR pillars: Treading Lightly, Championing British, Treating People Fairly and Living Well, and consolidate the retailer's responsibility work in to one place - setting clear targets for the business to achieve.
Waitrose Head of Sustainability and Ethical Sourcing, Quentin Clark, said: “These pledges by no means cover everything we're up to. But when we spoke to customers these 12 areas are what people said really mattered most.
"As a nation we're getting busier, and lack of time means we need to be able to trust the retailer we are using. So when creating these pledges we made sure the emphasis was on how we we're being part of the solution, now and in the future - we want it to be really easy for our customers to know we’re doing right thing."