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Catching On: McDonald's, UK grocer Sainsbury's Embrace Sustainability Push

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 23, 2013 06:32 PM

Efforts to curb overfishing of the world's most popular species are reaching deeper into supermarkets and fast-food menus.

The UK grocery Sainsbury’s will begin a “Switch the Fish” campaign on Friday, giving away seven tons of such “sustainable fish” as lemon sole, mussels, Cornish sardines and coley fillets, Marketing magazine reports.

To make the campaign ongoing, Sainsbury’s has also trained its fish counter employees at 495 stores about sustainability, TheDrum.com said.

"Sainsbury's is committed to fishing responsibly and helping change UK fish-eating habits,” said Justin King, chief executive at Sainsbury's. "We know our customers care about responsibly sourced food, and this is a great opportunity for them to try some alternative British fish for free."

In addition, for the next three weeks, Sainsbury’s will be giving five pence of each sale of packaged alternative fish to the Fishermen's Mission charity, which aids fishermen and their families during bad times.

Meanwhile in the U.S., the fish menu is broadening, too — at a place best known for burgers (but not halal food).

McDonald’s recently launched "Fish McBites," a new product that features “‘poppable’ white flaky Alaskan Pollack, responsibly sourced and wild caught from sustainable fisheries,” according to QSRWeb.com. The item is joining a relatively fixed menu of late at McDonald's, which has struggled with flat sales.

Elsewhere, it's also shaping up to be a good year for overfished species. As of this month, Starwood Hotels in Europe, Africa and the Middle East are no longer offering shark, blue fin tuna, sea turtle and whale at any of their properties, AllAfrica.com reported.

The upscale grocer Whole Foods will soon mark a year without having stocked species of fish deemed unsustainable. The company stopped carrying so-called "red-rated" fish on Earth Day. In August, Walmart said nearly all of the fish sold in its markets came from practices independently certified as sustainable.

The Canadian grocer Loblaws was comparatively early to the sustainability issue. In 2011, the chain made a $3 million CAD commitment to fund the nation's first academic chair in sustainable food production and increase consumer awareness of the issue.


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