Know your Scottish Salmon

Retailer Transparency and Traceability Review and Update 2020-2023

When Fidra began our Best Fishes project, we wanted to determine how consumers could find out more information about their salmon and if it was produced in an environmentally sustainable way. However we quickly found that this information was difficult to find, with little information available on the supply chain journey of Scottish salmon. This extended to retailers, with only 4 out of 10 major UK retailers including information on product packaging on the areas or the farm where their products were sourced. As a result Fidra set out to call for greater transparency and traceability throughout the Scottish salmon supply chain. 


Talking with retailers and industry 

In 2020 and 2022, Fidra hosted workshops in partnership with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and invited stakeholders from across the Scottish salmon supply chain, including retailers, suppliers and industry. The aim of these workshops was to discuss the challenges of increasing transparency and traceability in the Scottish salmon supply chain, and how they could be overcome. 

Over the course of the workshops there was an increasing awareness from all stakeholders of the need for high levels of transparency and traceability in their supply chains, with retailers increasingly demanding more information and sustainability from suppliers. Retailers, suppliers, NGOs and the public supported the development of a centralised database, to provide real time information across the Scottish salmon supply chain. Meanwhile an increasing number of retailers (including Lidl, M&S and Co-op) begun publishing information of their own supply chains on their websites, allowing customers to access information on the salmon products they are buying. 

In 2020 Fidra undertook a review of the transparency and traceability of the Scottish salmon supply chains of 10 major UK retailers. To do this we compared each retailer’s current practice to best practice as set out by the Ocean Disclosure Project (ODP) and Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC). The results from this assessment were presented in the Fidra Retailer Transparency table. 

Retailers have continued to make progress in improving the transparency and traceability of their Scottish salmon supply chains. In September 2023 Fidra and the BRC hosted a webinar to share the progress which has been made by stakeholders since 2022, with next steps and plans for the future. 

Evolution of the Fidra Retailer Transparency Table 

The Retailer Transparency table was produced to clearly demonstrate to retailers and the public the levels of traceability and transparency of Scottish salmon from 10 major UK retailers and where it could be improved. The table contains four criteria, against which each retailer is assigned a rating: Red (Improvement needed), Amber (Progress made) or Green (Best Practice) (Figure 1).


Figure 1 – Fidra’s Retailer Transparency Table (as of October 2023)


The aim of the table is to clearly present the level of transparency and traceability across UK retailers in relation to Scottish salmon, enabling easy comparison between each retailer. This can help customers in making informed decisions when purchasing Scottish salmon, while providing retailers with clear information on their current policies and comparison to those of other retailers.

The Retailer Transparency Table has continued to be updated over time, as retailers have taken steps to increase the transparency and traceability of their supply chains. This can clearly be seen in (Figure 2), where an overall increase in the number Green criteria, and decrease in Amber and Red criteria show positive progress by UK retailers. We hope that this positive trend will continue, as more retailers take steps to increase transparency and traceability throughout their Scottish salmon supply chains.  


Figure 2 – Evolution of the Fidra Retailer Transparency Table (2020 to 2023) showing an overall increase in Best Practice being achieve (Green) and decrease in Red (Improvement needed) classification. 


2023 Retailer Transparency Table Review 

Fidra will be undertaking a review of the Retailer Transparency Table through November 2023. If you are a retailer and wish to share with us any relevant information regarding steps you are taking to increase transparency and traceability in your Scottish salmon supply chain, please contact us at:  

Consumers and retailers demand more information 

Surveys conducted by Fidra in 2019 and 2021 showed that there is clear consumer demand for more information to be available on salmon product packaging. The survey results from 2021 showed that 86% of consumers wanted more information about Scottish salmon farming, with ~70% wanting more information to be available on packs and 80% of responses supporting including the name of individual farms on packs1. This demonstrated the clear demand from consumers for more information to be available on where  salmon is sourced and their production methods.  Availability of this information at the point of sale is vital to help consumers make informed decisions in their purchases, and for retailers to show true accountability.  

Retailers have indicated through their engagement with us that they would like better access to data and information at all stages of their salmon supply chains, to enable them to better assess environmental performance of producers and suppliers. The demand from retailers and consumers for clear and accessible information are important driving forces for increasing transparency and traceability across the Scottish salmon industry and throughout its supply chains.  

The need for supply chain transparency and the associated accountability is of even more importance in the light of an apparent step backwards from the Scottish farmed salmon producers’ industry body, Salmon Scotland, in applying to have the term ‘farmed’ removed from the ‘Scottish farmed salmon’ protected geographical indication2Fidra’s consumer surveys found that only ~5% of the respondents knew that all Scottish salmon is farmed, indicating a strong need for greater clarity and transparency around the product, not less.  

Next steps for retailers 

Several UK retailers have taken significant steps in increasing the transparency and traceability of their Scottish salmon supply chains and continue to play a vital role in raising the standards and sustainability across the industry. With consumer demand for food to be responsibly and sustainably sourced increasing,  retailers can build consumer trust in their products by being transparent in providing information on traceability and the certification of their salmon products to their customers.  

Fidra’s Asks: 

  • Label all own brand Scottish salmon products with the name of the source farm, regardless of price point 
  • Support implementation of a real time salmon farming dashboard that provides information to consumers down to farm-level 
  • Commit to both Ocean Disclosure Project and Sustainable Seafood Coalition transparency schemes, following recommended best practices 
  • Ensure they source their salmon from producers that meet the strictest regulatory and certification standards 
  • Provide up to date and accessible information on their websites, through QR codes or blockchain technology 
  • Support calls for the Scottish salmon farming industry to reduce its environmental impacts. 




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