Food Procurement Campaign - Fish Cities

Our focus for 2014 was food procurement, using the Sustainable Fish Cities initiative as a hook.

As well as getting as many places as possible to take on the Sustainable Fish City challenge, we wanted to help promote a range of other food procurement initiatives, from Food for Life Catering Mark to the Good Egg Award and Fairtrade Towns. And the work carries on...


Sustainable Fish Cities is an ambitious campaign for towns and cities to buy, serve, eat and promote only sustainable fish, and is run by a group of marine conservation and sustainability organisations.

During 2014, thirteen UK towns and cities launched local campaigns, through the Sustainable Food Cities Network, by gathering pledges of support from large and influential fish-serving businesses and organisations in their area. For the first time, a campaign that began aiming to change the fish served at the London 2012 Olympic Games, was working on the ground in towns and cities with a total population of over 13 million people.

During the year that the campaign was the focus for Sustainable Food Cities, 132 fish-serving organisations pledged to switch to 100% demonstrably sustainable fish, with some incredibly exciting highlights:

- Some of the UK’s top universities committed to only serve sustainable fish, including 21 Cambridge Colleges, the Belfast Metropolitan College, Brighton University, Cardiff University, Lancaster University, Leeds University, Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores Universities, Manchester University, Newcastle University, and the University of South Wales. These higher education institutions have a combined campus of over 350,000 students, as well as serving food to thousands of staff and visitors every day.

- Four caterers which operate across multiple cities signed up to the pledge, inspired by local campaigns; Elior, ISS Education, Harrison Catering and Pabulum Catering.

- NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership signed up, committing to only 100% sustainable fish for all Welsh NHS hospitals.

- Partnering with the Campaign for Better Hospital Food, we successfully pushed for the inclusion of our fish standards in the Government’s Hospital Food Standards, which were developed over summer 2014, to apply to all NHS hospitals in England. The standards came into force on 1st April 2015, including a requirement for 100% demonstrably sustainable fish.

- Partnering with the Children’s Food Campaign, we called for sustainable fish to be included in all the new School Food Standards. They were released in June 2014, and included a recommendation to serve sustainable fish – though fell short of making the standards mandatory.

- Our biggest pledge yet - the largest wholesale supplier in the UK, Brakes, signed up to the Sustainable Fish Cities pledge. They removed all species rated 4 or 5 by the Marine Conservation Society, and now use the Marine Conservation Society traffic-light ratings on their online product list, to make sustainable fish sourcing automatic for thousands of restaurants, takeaways, and public-sector institutions.

What now?

We aim to continue Sustainable Fish Cities until we have achieved our ambition of sustainable fish being the norm when eating out in the UK. If you'd like to see your local area supporting healthy fisheries and fishing communities we can help you to plan a Sustainable Fish City campaign (or Sustainable Fish Town or Community!). We can help you to draw up an action plan and give ongoing advice. Plus we have a variety of tools available such as an action pack for businesses that join the campaign, online case studies and publicity materials.

Get in touch to find out more about what we can offer you, or read more about the campaign.




Leon Ballin
Sustainable Food Cities

Sustainable Food Cities is a partnership programme run by

Soil Association

Food Matters

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Sustainable Food Cities is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation 

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