Wednesday, October 4, 2023
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is awarding the Sustainable Fish Awards in Belgium on 3 October. Through these awards, the wild fish quality label aims to highlight the unique sustainability achievements of organisations within the Belgian fisheries sector. Every day, organisations work toward making the fishing industry more sustainable. This year three new categories have been added to underline the versatility in the possibilities offered by fish: Best Supplement, Best Pet food and Best Foodbox. Huge progress is being made in these still underrated sectors that should receive public recognition.
Retailers, brands, suppliers, restaurants and fisheries that have made significant progress over the past year or have been an example in terms of their sustainable fish assortment and communication are rewarded. This second edition has seen new winners such as Colruyt Group in the ‘Best supermarket for fresh fish’ category and Mowi and Gilco in the ‘Best Belgian suppliers’ category. Some companies received their second award in a row. For instance, Ikea, Aldi and the Dutch Mussel sector won the same category as last year.
MSC UN indicator and SDG 14, life below water
Menno Bax, MSC Program Director Benelux: “For the relatively short period that MSC has been present in Belgium, it's noticeable that great progress has been made. The fishing industry faces many challenges, such as the consequences of Brexit, the warming of the oceans and rising energy prices. Despite all this, we've noticed that considerable attention is paid to sourcing sustainable seafood and that the different partners are committed to finding solutions. The entire chain, from boat to plate, is committed to sustainable fish, a process that is not always visible.
With the new ‘Best Supplement, Best Pet food and Best Foodbox’ categories introduced this year, I'm pleased that we can highlight the different contributions made by fisheries, suppliers, brands and retailers to ensure we have fish for future generations. Thanks to our partners' commitment, we're able to make a difference against overfishing every day. These awards are a way to thank them and put them in the spotlight.”
MSC's aim is oceans full of life and a guaranteed supply of seafood now and in the future. The United Nations recognises the MSC programme as an important tool to achieve SDG 14 (life below water). By committing to SDG 14, MSC, along with hundreds of others, is committed to:
- stop overfishing
- restore fish stocks and protect ecosystems
- eliminate illegal, undocumented and unregulated fishing
In 2022, MSC also became an official UN indicator for biodiversity conservation.
Analysis and jury selection
MSC-labelled products were the benchmark for the MSC Sustainable Fish Awards. Following a comprehensive analysis of the entire Belgian industry, the four-person, external jury was able to supplement the benchmark and the winners were subsequently selected. The preliminary analysis was conducted by MSC based on performance (i.e. assortment) and objectives and communication regarding sustainable fish (or fisheries). For the "Best three nominated Belgian suppliers" category, the nominees were nominated by retailers and brands within the other categories.
The jury consists of four sector specialists, each with their own field of expertise:
- Peter Hamaker – Former interim CEO of Jan van As, involved in the first Dutch MSC-certified fishery and lifelong supporter of sustainable fish & seafood management
- Sarah Braeye – Project manager Rikolto Superlist project
- Maurane Martin Hernandez – Market development manager ASC
- Jan Kegels – Entrepreneur and manager of JEAN sur MER
The winners of the 2023 Sustainable Fish Awards
Best supermarket for fresh fish Colruyt Group
Philippe Toussaint, product sustainability project manager at Colruyt Group: “Sustainability really is in Colruyt Group's DNA. We've been working with MSC and ASC for more than 10 years already in order to make our products more sustainable and ensure the most sustainable sourcing possible across the chain. For years, for example, we've no longer sold wild fish from endangered or threatened stocks. MSC guarantees traceability and checks, and we fully support this. Our customers needn't worry, Colruyt Group enables them to make sustainable choices.”
Best supermarket Aldi
The jury report says: Aldi won this award because it sold the largest volume of MSC-certified seafood in the past year and is a pioneer in the field of MSC-certified tuna. Aldi also made improvements in its communication and commitment over the past year, which helped it to achieve a perfect score on these parameters.
Best national brand Fish Tales
Irene Kranendonk, Impact Manager at Fish Tales: “Fish Tales was born from a mission: to change the world of fish for good. This award is a great recognition of the work we do. We look forward to making an even greater impact in the future and allowing consumers to enjoy delicious and, above all, sustainable fish.”
Best food service IKEA
Olivier Vandermeersch, Food Commercial Leader IKEA BE: “With everything going on in the world, IKEA Food's basic philosophy is more relevant than ever; inspiring people to live better lives through healthier and more sustainable food in a way that is relevant and affordable for everyone.”
Most important MSC-certified fishery Dutch mussel sector
Wouter van Zandbrink, chair of the association of shellfish processors and traders: “Mussel protein is a marine protein that is sustainable, healthy and fits perfectly in the diet of the future. That's why we're working on expanding the number of production sites in the coastal area.”
Best Supplement Arctic Blue
Ludo van de Wiel, founder of Arctic Blue: “We consider Arctic Blue to be leading the MSC-certified Omega-3 Fish Oil brand of the Benelux, with as many as 10 different products bearing the MSC quality label. In addition to preserving healthy fish stocks, Arctic Blue also works in a circular way: the fish oil is made from offcuts, no fish is specially caught for it. We make Waves.”
Best Pet food Sheba
An De Volder, General Manager of Mars Multisales Belgium: “Sustainability forms an integral part of Sheba's DNA. Cats love fish and thanks to Sheba they can enjoy fish without ruining the planet. The fish we use for the Sheba fish and shellfish varieties and our other cat food brands is sourced from sustainable fishing which was achieved in part thanks to MSC-certified Sheba products.”
Best Foodbox Hello Fresh
Pedro Martins, Senior Sustainability Sourcing Manager at HelloFresh SE: “In 2022, 95% of our seafood was sourced from, and certified by, recognised ecolabels, including MSC for wild fish. We aim to continue sourcing all our wild fish and seafood from MSC-certified fisheries, thus allowing us to ensure that sustainability remains at the core of our mission.”
Best three Belgian suppliers Pittman seafoods, Mowi and Gilco
Yoke Vandepitte, CEO Pittman Seafoods: “Pittman Seafoods is committed to making its vision a reality: a world where all generations are able to enjoy healthy and sustainable frozen seafood. As a family business, we're determined to be a trusted partner, using our years of experience and dedication to provide a top quality range, with service that comes from our hearts.”
Kim Huys, Quality Engineer Mowi Belgium: “Mowi Belgium has been MSC-certified for 15 years. In the sourcing and purchase of products, we choose products that meet internationally recognised certification schemes for responsible, sustainable fishing and production whenever possible. Our aim is also to make our customers aware of the importance of sustainable fishing.”
From the jury report: Gilco is a party that is always open to developing new products and in terms of size is a supplier in Belgium with great impact.
All winners will be announced on the MSC website on 3 October.