Just returned from Seattle where the world’s aquaculture (fish and prawn or shrimp) farming sector had gathered to discuss the industry and the challenges it faces. Just some facts: we farm more fish than we catch, roughly half of fish sales are from farmed species and the trends for production and sales are upwards. However, the industry has, and is, facing into the sustainability of the present position and the likely future situation.

The most pressing issue is that of what we feed fish and prawns on. Increasingly, vegetable sources such as soya and its derivatives are being used. Also c. a fifth of fish meal is generated from trimmings etc from fish destined for human consumption. Some species such as Tilapia are herbivorous and not reliant on fish feed.

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Posted by Chris on 03 November 2009

The hoo-ha over the latest survey of ASDA’s commitment to British sourcing doesn’t add up.

The National Farmers Union (England & Wales) and one of the beef groups have lined up behind the English Beef and Lamb Executive’s assessment of what’s on our shelves.

Now, we don’t have any difficulties with this at all. In fact, the NFU have repeatedly surveyed our stores looking at the labelling we use. We have an excellent working arrangement with the team that do the work and the NFU seem happy with the approach.

However EBLEX have taken a sample of their findings from a fraction of our stores and extended this to quantify a total purchase of British beef. It’s a bit like a bran tub dip and gives a predictably unreliable result.

So while on any given day you can find higher % of imported products on a shelf; firstly, those products are always clearly labelled so there is no confusion for customers.

Secondly, unless EBLEX were there all day from when we first started stacking shelves until the last customer has left the store, the shelf contents will never accurately reflect what we buy. The proportion of products on shelf change as a result of customers picking up products. Possibly even, taking British in preference!

And just to clarify the most meaningful statistic of all, in 2008 ASDA sold more than 25000 kg of British Beef. The same period in 2009, we have sold more than 25000 kg.

Had anyone from EBLEX thought to ask, we could have told them this months ago and saved them the effort and expense of conducting a flawed survey.

Posted by Chris on 18 November 2009