IKEA commits to 100% sustainable seafood

In classic Scandinavian fashion, Swedish furniture store IKEA has again proved itself ahead of the curve on matters of sustainability after it announced this week that all 23 varieties of seafood on sale in the chain's restaurants and food markets will come from certified sources- at no extra cost to the consumer.

As of this week, IKEA will only serve seafood that has been certified by either the Marine Stewardship Council (which limits catches of depleted fisheries) or the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (which is introducing minimum standards for fish farms). 

IKEA operates in 27 countries, with a total of 315 stores worldwide, and an average of 716 million in-store visits per year- that's a lot of certifying to be done. According to the Guardian, Ikea’s food business was worth more than £1bn in 2015, contributing 5% of its total revenues. Sales of seafood generated around £160m, with its range of salmon dishes the second-biggest seller behind meatballs. Just the scale of this decision will make a significant impact on the industry, placing IKEA as the biggest food service provider of sustainable seafood in the world. 

Nicolas Guichoux, Global Commercial Director, Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) said: 

“IKEA is demonstrating global leadership in sustainability. By sourcing and selling only certified sustainable seafood, IKEA is powerfully inspiring consumer choices and influencing sustainable business practices around the world. IKEA's significant commitment is already helping to ensure oceans teeming with life, and secure seafood supplies, for future generations.”

Other sustainable fishing authorities are heralding IKEA's pledge as a "Gamechanger" for the industry in general.

Whilst this is a huge step forward for corporations and consumption of seafood in general, it also raises the question of whether other companies will follow suit. If a furniture store can do it, surely stores specializing in food and seafood can and should too? One can only hope this news will both shame and encourage other corporations to do the same. 

I will admit, the question did cross my mind- is this just a public distraction to detract from the possible fact that cheap furniture bought for the purpose of being thrown away after a short amount of time is an inherently unsustainable business model? It might be compensating for the damage they cause in other areas of their supply chain. That being said, it's still an exciting prospect that businesses are beginning to do this at all. Whether we like it or not, huge corporations like Ikea have a massive impact on the earth, and a decision like this gives hope that this will lead in the industry and pave the way for more sustainable seafood sales across the globe.

Note:

Nearly two-thirds of the world’s fisheries are “fully exploited”, and most of the rest are over-exploited. Earlier this month, WWF announced in their most recent Blue Planet Report that marine populations have halved since 1970