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2024 Retailer’s Guide to Promoting Sustainable Seafood With Impact


In today’s retail landscape, sustainability is a fundamental shopper expectation. Eighty-four percent of Americans are interested in buying products that are better for the environment and nature1. A growing majority of U.S. seafood consumers prioritize sustainability, with 65% wanting to see clear and third-party verified sustainability claims2, highlighting the importance of providing more credible information about a brand’s impact on the water. Retailers play a critical role in meeting shoppers' needs, and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) offers easy resources for retailers to get engaged.

Packaging serves as a primary source for shoppers looking for details on product sustainability, with 44% of U.S. consumers relying on it to learn more1Often, shoppers are willing to pay a premium for sustainable options: Among U.S. seafood consumers, 48% are prepared to pay more for seafood from a certified sustainable fishery, and that increases to 88% for the eco-conscious segment2

After strong growth in some segments, seafood sales at U.S. retail have dropped to pre-pandemic levels3. In contrast, U.S. sales of MSC certified sustainable seafood continue to grow year over year, increasing 62% over the past four years. In addition to nutrition, 74% of seafood shoppers value sustainability when selecting where they shop for seafood3. Retailers, therefore, can work to increase brand loyalty and meet growing demands from consumers by highlighting sustainable products. 

As the largest globally traded food commodity, seafood plays a pivotal role, as demand for aquatic foods is expected to double from 2015 to 20504. It is also one of the healthiest proteins,5 with a lower carbon footprint than most land-based animal proteins6. This means that the health of our oceans and the sustainability of our seafood sources are paramount.

The MSC blue fish label is a certification for wild, sustainable seafood, which can be seen on more than 20,000 seafood products globally. The blue fish embodies a shared commitment to people and the planet by businesses across the supply chain, from fishery to retail, to protect the ocean and its resources for the future. Seventy-five percent of seafood consumers* place high levels of trust in MSC certified products, and nearly half of consumers report that seeing the MSC blue fish label positively influences their purchase2


It is not just about consumer perception, though; it's also about tangible and credible impact. MSC certification ensures that seafood products are from a verified, sustainable source that is contributing to the continued health of fish populations and marine ecosystems. There are also publicly available data and research to back up these claims.

Sustainability is not an end goal; it is a journey of continuous improvement as more information becomes available and systems improve. Not only does the MSC standard improve every five years, but 95% Of MSC certified fisheries also continue to make improvements7 after becoming certified in key areas like impacts to endangered and threatened species and critical habitats and ecosystems. 

Retailers are an important part of this positive impact. Even simple in-store messaging has the power to influence and support more sustainable purchasing habits. It is not just a win for positive environmental impact; point-of-sale signage has been shown to contribute to a 3%-6% sales lift8. When paired with an environmental cause-based message, it can be even greater. In 2020, Walmart measured the efficacy of its messaging regarding seafood eco-certifications at the point of choice, which led to a 25% increase in fresh fish sales9.

The great news is that most U.S. retailers already have MSC certified items on their shelves. The MSC blue label, paired with simple and impactful marketing messages, has the potential to motivate sales of sustainable products and deepen trust and brand confidence with verifiable claims.

To help retailer partners communicate their commitment to sustainability, MSC offers a range of easy and ready-to-use resources: 

  1. Access the MSC in-store marketing kit for retailers to signpost MSC options from shelf-stable and frozen, to chilled and grab-and-go, to health supplements and pet products. 
  2. Retailers can also join existing MSC marketing campaigns to educate shoppers during key times of the year, like Earth Month and World Ocean Day. 
  3.  View the media kit for Little Labels, Big Impact to promote sustainability beyond seafood. This collaboration among MSC, Fairtrade America and The Non-GMO Project highlights the rigor behind third-party certifications.

Signing a free marketing agreement with the MSC provides a wealth of resources and support for retailers. This includes access to marketing materials, guidance on promoting MSC certified products and fisheries, and expertise and connections among fisheries and supply chains around the world. Partnering with the MSC empowers retailers to drive sales while promoting sustainability. Becoming a MSC partner isn't just about meeting consumer demand, it's also about actively contributing to positive change on the water.

Sign up to become a MSC partner and help lead the way toward a more sustainable future.


"GlobeScan Healthy & Sustainable Living Report 2023"; Base = U.S. consumers 

MSC GlobeScan Consumer Perceptions Survey 2022; Base = Seafood Consumers, U.S.A. 

*Base: MSC-aware seafood consumers U.S.A. 

"Power of Seafood 2024 Report," FMI - The Food Industry Association

"Blue food demand across geographic and temporal scales," Nature Communications

"The Health Benefits of Seafood Supported by Science," Seafood Nutrition Partnership

"Swapping meat for seafood could mean more nutritious and climate-friendly diets," Dalhousie University

"How MSC Certified fisheries are improving," Marine Stewardship Council

"Conversion at Shelf," Neptune Retail Solutions

"Checking In With Walmart on Seafood Sustainability," FMI - The Food Industry Association

† Does not cover activities/products that would require MSC Chain of Custody certification