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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
Long road to full sustainability, says Tesco chief
The road to total seafood sustainability will be a long one, says Peter Hajipieris, Tesco's seafood policy manager in the UK.
That is why Tesco is pumping millions of pounds into research over the next five years through the Sustainable Consumption Institute, he declared recently.
Not only will be the research be carried out by experts and the results made widely available, but Tesco will also be endowing a chair at the Institute, based at Manchester University, as part of the project. It is designed to promote fresh thinking and explore vital areas of research such as how customers can be empowered and incentivised.
Mr Hajipieris revealed the move at the recent North Atlantic Seafood Conference in Oslo where he spoke at length on the issue of fish sustainability and how it would impact on both the consumers and his stores.
Tesco is the world's third largest store group and is the market leader in both fresh and frozen fish some 452 fresh fish counters in the United Kingdom alone.
But despite these impressive figures, Britons were still way down the European league when it came to seafood consumption. The Portuguese eat an average of 70 kgs a year, the Spanish 40 kgs and the French 32 kgs. But in Britain the figure was a paltry 24 kgs per head.
"We have to work extremely hard to sell a wide range of seafood," he contended.
Mr Hajipieris said the UK consumer preferences were species, quality and fish at a price they felt they wanted to pay. Farmed fish was also becoming more popular in his stores, with salmon and trout topping the list but Vietnamese tilapia was now the fourth best seller.
He continued: "Sustainability is now becoming an issue among our customers, but we believe that it will be a long journey to achieve true sustainability. At Tesco we sell dolphin friendly canned fish and all our fish counters have the Marine Stewardship Council chain of custody certification."
He posed the question: "Should seafood sustainability be just left to the markets? We have found that women are more concerned than men about the issue, but both want re-assurance. I believe it is our job as an industry to provide that re-assurance. I also believe that sustainability will become an increasing issue for both wild caught fish and fro farmed fish."
Mr Hajipieris said the problem was in how to address the challenges that faced both fishing and retail. "I do not suggest that we have all the answers, but we believe in a pro-active and pragmatic approach and we are conscious of the global and colossal magnitude of the challenges that lie ahead.
He concluded that as far as Tesco was concerned, the aim was to sell all seafood in a manner consistent with responsible fishing. Seafood was a fantastic food and, although not a medicine in itself, it was highly nutritious. Anyone who cannot sell it in those qualities would be better looking for another job, he argued.
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Issues/Chain of custody / Supply chain management
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