british Ocean-Friendly Tuna Solutions

Confused British shoppers seek Ocean-Friendly Tuna solutions amid sustainable tuna claims, according to the MSC Tuna Shoppers Report 2023

British shoppers ‘confused’ about sustainable tuna claims but wish to do the right thing for the ocean

Tuna is one of the most popular seafoods in the UK, but shoppers remain confused about how to buy sustainable tuna, according to research released today. At the same time, consumers wish to do the right thing by buying products that help the ocean.

While 71% of British consumers eat tuna, almost a quarter (24%) of those say they eat canned tuna at least once a week, an increase of 2% from 2021- a reflection of the rise in popularity of tinned fish over the past few years highlighted with the #tinnedfishdatenight trend on TikTok.

The majority of tuna sandwich lovers prefer their tuna sandwiches with mayonnaise (70%) while more than one in ten tuna eaters (12%) prefer a tuna jacket potato over a sandwich, the research conducted by YouGov (1) for the Marine Stewardship Council, the world’s leading sustainable seafood ecolabel, found.

However, despite tuna being one of our most loved seafoods, almost one in three shoppers who buy tuna (32%) say they find it difficult to make the right choice when looking for tuna as they are confused about what to look for.

British Ocean-Friendly Tuna Solutions

Photo: Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

Some 68% of consumers who buy tuna, want to do their best to buy sustainably caught tuna but only 42% are satisfied with the range of sustainably caught tuna available in the UK.

Found on everything from tinned fish to fresh tuna steaks, the blue MSC ecolabel on a product shows a consumer that their seafood comes from a sustainable well-managed fishery, where the stock is not overfished and the impact on the wider marine environment is minimised.

Seth McCurry, MSC UK & Ireland Senior Commercial Manager, said: “We know that consumers want to do the right thing but are confused about tuna and whether or not it is a sustainable fish to eat.

“The good news is that around 42% of the global tuna catch is now certified as sustainable to the MSC standard. This has meant it is increasingly available on UK supermarket shelves as more retailers and brands make commitments to move their tuna towards 100% MSC labelling.

“Just look for the blue MSC ecolabel on your tuna sandwiches, tins and steaks to be assured the tuna you are eating is from a sustainable source.”

MSC certified tuna products are currently sold under eleven different brands and in eight supermarkets, according to the MSC UK Tuna Shopper Report (2).

In November and December 2023, secret shoppers from market research agency Savanta (3) conducted a review of tuna products available in all major retailers across Britain to find out how much sustainable tuna is available to consumers.

The shoppers found that 25% of tuna products on offer in retail carried a blue MSC ecolabel, up from 18% two years before. Waitrose offered the greatest selection of sustainable tuna products with 79% (45 of 57) of their tuna carrying a blue MSC ecolabel.

british Ocean-Friendly Tuna Solutions

Sushi in a bowl. Photo: James Strawbridge

Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, and Amazon Fresh are the only supermarkets to use MSC certified tuna in all their own brand ‘to go’ meal options, such as in sandwiches and sushi.

The wider availability of sustainable tinned tuna can be seen in sales figures which show that in the 12 months to October 2023, 20% of jarred, canned, and preserved tuna sold in the UK had the blue MSC ecolabel present – up from just 4% in 2021.

Looking at the seafood sector as a whole, figures from the MSC UK & Ireland Market Report 2023, (4) show that UK and Irish shoppers spent a record £1.33 billion on MSC certified fish and seafood in 2023, up 5% from the previous year.

Volumes of MSC labelled product also increased, rising to 154,543 tonnes – 1% higher than the preceding year. MSC labelled products accounted for an estimated 59% of the value and 58% of the volume of all wild caught fish and seafood sold in the UK retail. This is up from 54% and 51% respectively the preceding year, a promising rise in label coverage for MSC certified products.


  1. YouGov surveyed 2017 GB consumers in December 2023 on behalf of the MSC. Fieldwork was undertaken between 5th – 6th December 2023.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
  2. This is the second edition of the MSC UK Tuna Shopper Report which every two years provides a picture of the evolving sustainable tuna landscape in the UK retail sector.
  3. Consultancy Savanta visited four large retail outlets for each of the ten largest supermarkets across Great Britain. (Asda, Aldi, Co-op, Iceland, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Waitrose). In addition, shoppers visited two outlets of Amazon and Whole Foods, both of which have stores in London.
  4. The MSC UK & Ireland Market Report 2023, looks at sales data for the financial year from April 2022 to March 2023.

Source: Press Release

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