Fish fingers containing Russian whitefish still on sale across UK

3 days ago 9

Fish fingers sold successful astir UK supermarkets usage whitefish caught by Russian ships, contempt galore chains pledging to boycott Russian produce.

While supermarkets person taken steps to awesome their solidarity with Ukraine, rebranding their chickenhearted kievs arsenic kyivs and taking Russian vodka disconnected the shelves, they person carried connected buying its fish.

Big brands specified arsenic Birds Eye and Young’s, arsenic good arsenic astir large supermarkets, including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons and Asda, inactive usage Russian-caught fish.

When approached for comment, galore deferred to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which said the UK relied heavy connected Russia for whitefish and that “complex proviso chains” meant it was “difficult to find different sources”.

Of the large supermarkets, lone Marks & Spencer and Waitrose said they had stopped utilizing Russian-caught food successful their ain products, though Waitrose inactive stocks brands that usage it. Tesco and Asda person stopped buying straight from Russian suppliers.

The authorities announced successful March it would present sanctions connected Russian whitefish, with a 35% tariff connected each imports, but the thought was enactment connected clasp aft representations from industry.

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesperson insisted the sanctions would beryllium going up but that it was “subject to further enactment connected the circumstantial implications for the sector”.

Steve Trent, the main enforcement of the Environmental Justice Foundation, said: “It is unacceptable that British consumers are being sold food fingers caught by Russian vessels, unknowingly sending their hard-earned pounds to money Putin’s warfare machine. The authorities should instrumentality urgent enactment to extremity the merchantability of Russian-caught food successful the UK.”

More than 30% of the whitefish connected merchantability successful Britain is caught by Russian ships, according to estimates from manufacture assemblage Seafish.

In 2020, the UK imported 432,000 tonnes of whitefish astatine a worth of £778m, meaning the wealth going to Russia is apt to beryllium successful excess of £200m.

UK achromatic food imports chart

Britain imports astir 10 times the measurement of cod and haddock that it is capable to catch, with 1.5m food fingers eaten each day. Fish and spot shops are besides heavy reliant connected Russian supply.

The shadiness fisheries minister, Daniel Zeichner, said: “Doing each we tin to basal beside the radical of Ukraine means ever-tightening, effectual sanctions connected Putin’s Kremlin that includes looking astatine products which person yet to beryllium efficaciously targeted.

“Labour has been pressing the authorities connected the contented of Russian food being commonplace connected UK supermarket shelves and we are disappointed astatine their deficiency of urgency to enactment connected this.”

Russia accounts for astir 45% of the world’s whitefish supply, mostly pollack, cod and haddock, and determination is fierce contention to find different sources.

Much of the Russian food caught is past deboned successful China oregon elsewhere earlier being sold to the UK to beryllium processed, which makes it harder for the nationalist to way proviso chains.

Aoife Martin, the manager of operations astatine Seafish, said: “A batch of companies person already indicated that they volition look astatine alternate products that they tin usage successful spot of Russian fish. But that’s not the benignant of happening that you tin pivot distant from easy oregon quickly. There isn’t an alternate proviso readily available.”

As brands scramble to root whitefish elsewhere, the terms of food fingers and different processed food is expected to soar.

Andrew Opie, the manager of nutrient & sustainability astatine the BRC, said: “Russian food is utilized extensively successful the UK nutrient industry, and businesses volition beryllium reviewing their sourcing arrangements. Seafood uses analyzable proviso chains, and it tin beryllium hard to find alternate sources which are cost-effective and bash not endanger the aboriginal of suppliers oregon breach contracts.

“We are waiting to perceive from the authorities connected sanctions and tariffs, but they volition beryllium assessing the interaction connected consumers successful presumption of terms and availability.”

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A Birds Eye spokesperson said: “With the highest ostentation successful 40 years expanding nutrient and surviving costs for galore families, we are doing everything we tin to proceed to supply nutritious and affordable food products, without compromising connected our committedness to lone usage sustainably certified fish.”

Birds Eye said that nary sanctions were successful spot affecting the food it bought and that it was “accelerating our existing strategy to find alternate sources of sustainable fish” to conscionable an industry-wide challenge.

A Defra spokesperson said: “We, with our allies and partners, are imposing the astir punishing sanctions ever connected Russia pursuing its unprovoked and amerciable penetration of Ukraine.”

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