CMA complaint filed against retailers using 'misleading' scampi claims

By William Dodds

- Last updated on GMT

The complaint calls for 'responsibly sourced' claims to be removed from scampi packaging. Credit: Getty / DronG
The complaint calls for 'responsibly sourced' claims to be removed from scampi packaging. Credit: Getty / DronG
A complaint has been submitted to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) over the use of 'responsibly sourced' claims made about scampi products sold in the UK.

The charity Open Seas submitted the complaint because of concerns it has about claims made by retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Co-op and Marks & Spencer about how their scampi is sourced.

According to Open Seas, the use of the term responsible to describe the sourcing process is not aligned with international norms in the context of seafood and has been given an “alternative definition by a self-interested industry group, which uses it to make vague and misleading environmental claims to promote and sell their own products”.

Meanwhile, the charity argues that “no reasonable and objective person would consider trawl-caught [scampi] to have been 'responsibly sourced' if they were in possession of the actual facts concerning the conduct of the fishery and its loose regulation”.

On its website, Open Seas has published several reports about how scampi is sourced and has concluded that bottom-trawling methods cause "extensive damage to our marine environment and fish stocks".

As a result, Open Seas has accused the retailers of misleading consumers and therefore being in breach of the CMA’s guide to making environmental claims about goods and services. Open Seas has produced an extensive briefing which has now been sent to the CMA for the body to assess.

“The [scampi] fishery itself is considered to be poorly managed by a range of authorities, including at least two independent organisations that are partners of the retailers making the claim,”​ said Open Seas head of campaigns Nick Underdown.

In order for retailers to use ‘responsibly sourced’ claims on scampi packaging, they need to meet the Responsible Sourcing Code and the Environmental Labelling Code criteria set by the Sustainable Seafood Coalition.

However, Underdown question these code of conducts: “The excuse made by retailers and the Sustainable Seafood Coalition that the presence of an improvement project justifies the claim of responsible sourcing is both highly contested and also immaterial since the actual improvement project has failed and achieved no practical positive changes despite being in operation for five years.”

Underdown concludes by calling for 'responsibly sourced' claims to be removed from all customer communications, including product packaging, immediately.

In response to the complaint being filed, a British Retail Consortium spokesperson said: "Retailers are committed to sourcing scampi responsibly, working closely with stakeholders and suppliers to ensure products meet customer expectations on sustainability.”

A Tesco spokesperson added: "We are committed to sourcing seafood products responsibly and are proud to have been at the forefront of a recent cross-retail agreement with UK scampi fishermen to adopt the MSC's new 'In Transition to MSC' programme. This will be a major step towards meeting the standards for MSC accreditation on scampi fishing."

In other news, Iceland Foods welcomes branded product pitches with £100k investment on offer.

Related topics Meat, poultry & seafood

Related news

Show more

Follow us

Featured Jobs

View more


Food Manufacture Podcast

Listen to the Food Manufacture podcast