Supermarket giant is crystal clear: Drop meat and eat more seafood – for environmental reasons.
He represents the largest private-sector employer in the UK, with its 7,000 convenience stores. Giles Bolton is the Director of Responsible Sourcing in Tesco.
“We have set a goal of reducing the negative environmental impact of the average UK shopping cart by 50 per cent. Salmon fillets are one of the products we are using as a proxy,” he said.
In this context, Tesco is working closely with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification body.
“I sit on the board of MSC, but I’m speaking for Tesco at the highest level today,” Bolton noted.
The sustainability discussion is linked to climate change challenges. And meat production, and especially cattle, is not a preferred option.
“If I look at the world’s meat production, I can’t say that growth will get higher. But for seafood, the growth options are enormous. The possibilities, especially for salmon farming, are enormous,” he stressed.
“The question is whether we are on the right track,” Bolton said but does not hide that he is a technology optimist. “We need a significant increase in production, and the innovation that happens here is crucial,” he added.
A key point of sustainability linked to farmed salmon is its dependence on the salmon’s diet, fish feed.
“Customers demand 100 per cent sustainability. I think we are vulnerable in this industry. Not everyone meets this standard,” he said, pointing to feed ingredients that are not completely sustainable.
On the other hand, he highlights ingredients algae and insect feed as particularly innovative.
“These are brilliant new sources of feed. The question is: Can we go faster and harder?”
At the same time, Bolton and Tesco see opportunities to become even more environmentally friendly – on fish packaging.
“We cannot continue with disposable styrofoam packaging. I mean it’s obvious,” he said, adding that Tesco prefers cardboard packaging for its fish products.