Strong growth of labelled products brings certified seafood to the forefront in the Netherlands

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By Milthon Lujan

A Dutch consumer survey has revealed that the consumption of certified products is continuing to gain mainstream popularity in the Netherlands. The ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council) logo accounted for the largest growth out of the nine labels* included in the survey, with a 78 per cent increase in spend on ASC-labelled products from 58 million in 2016 up to 102 million in the first half of 2017. Around 65 per cent of all seafood products now carry the ASC or MSC label in the Netherlands.

The overall spend on the certified products increased with 29 per cent from the first half of 2016 to the year after. During the same period, the expenditure on the Dutch label products grew with 370 million euro. The total spend on certified products is expected to reach 3,5 billon euro in 2017.

The numbers are taken from a report published by the Dutch research organisation IRI that conducts a yearly survey of the sale of certified products in the Netherlands. The report is commissioned by a consortium of certification labels operating in the Netherlands, which aims to stimulate the country’s sustainability sector and provide a platform for providing reliable sales statistics. “This is a major step towards bringing certified seafood into the mainstream,” said Anne-Marie Kats, ASC’s Commercial Manager for Benelux and France.

“Our Dutch partners have been great supporters of the ASC from the get-go. The news of the ASC label’s growing recognition and popularity in the Netherlands is a testament to the crucial role the supply chain plays in transforming markets towards sustainable practices. We cherish the opportunity to link our suppliers with producers who can demonstrate that they operate responsibly and care for the environment, workers and local communities. The Benelux will continue to be a key focus of ours. I look forward to expanding our reach and consumer recognition in the region.”

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Consumer making the choice for certified seafood The sector for labelled products has seen a rapid growth over the last decade in the Netherlands. Dutch consumers are increasingly opting for seafood that is certified responsibly farmed when shopping in the supermarket. They have shown their support for sustainably and responsibly produced products though their buying behaviour. The ASC logo for responsible aquaculture was introduced in the Dutch market five years ago with the global launch of ASC-labelled tilapia in Amsterdam in August 2012. In September of the same year, the Dutch seafood brand Queens launched its ASC-labelled pangasius product range, becoming the first company in the world to offer ASC-certified panga. Since then, the Netherlands has become the country with the highest number of ASC-labelled products, counting close to 1,500 approved products to date.

The ASC label received top marks from Mileu Centraal, a Dutch NGO that rates seafood labels on their performance to ascertain the efficacy and impact of certification schemes. Out of three categories – ambition for sustainability, transparency, and trustworthiness – the ASC achieved the highest scores in corresponding to strength of environmental assessments, fair trading and social aspects for workers at the farm level, and the assessment process. Building trust through transparency Traceability plays is an increasingly important role in ensuring consumer trust in seafood products. All ASC-labelled seafood can be traced back through the supply chain to a certified responsibly managed producer. Every company throughout the chain must have a Chain of Custody certification in place that requires them to meet strict requirements and have in place traceability systems that ensure no product mixing or substitutions can occur.

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Source: ASC

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