Four chains lead in sustainable fishing, aquaculture

May 30, 2014

Models become clearer for seafood sustainability in new Greenpeace report.

Retailers seeking a sustainable seafood culture in their stores could emulate leaders profiled in the eighth annual Greenpeace USA report, Carting Away The Oceans.  

All isn’t green in the 26 chains examined: Just four of the top five – Whole Foods Market (7.28), Safeway (7.22), Wegmans (7.12) and Trader Joe’s (7.01) - earned the organization’s “good” rating, which requires a 7.00 measure on its 10-point scale.  Rounding out the Top 10: Hy-Vee (#5, 6.63), Harris Teeter (#6, 6.62), Aldi (#7, 6.60), Target (6.43), Ahold USA (6.29), and Delhaize (6.11).

Greenpeace is also concerned that corporate shake-ups could alter the sustainability landscape.  For example, Kroger (ranked #21) acquired Harris Teeter (#6).  Which chain’s seafood sourcing policy will prevail?  Ditto for Albertsons (#20) and Safeway (#2). 

The most teachable profiles include:

  • Whole Foods Market.  Strong policies overcame a worsening of its Red List record to stay #1 for the second straight year.  Its canned-tuna activities are the most sustainable of any U.S. retailer.  Its sourcing is also strong, and it requires fish farms to minimize their environmental impacts.  The chain uses a pioneering labeling program in concert with Monterey Bay Aquarium and Blue Oceans Institute.
  • Safeway.  Still on a path to ridding itself of all unsustainable seafood by 2015, the chain released a new sustainable tuna product that merits being ocean-safe.  The chain’s own policy precludes it from adding any new Red List species to its inventory.  In-store brochures, informational kiosks, and online content educate consumers.
  • Wegmans.  Wild-caught items must be captured according to local regulations.  The chain takes strong stands on political conservation measures, with both policymaking bodies and suppliers.  Its trains staff to be knowledgeable about seafood choices, labeling and sustainability.
  • Trader Joe’s.   Introduced an affordable, sustainable canned tuna product.  The chain won’t do business with any vessel on Greepeace’s blacklist.  It is seeking better producers in both wild-capture and aquaculture sectors.

The report also covers sustainability issues such as bycatch, irresponsible fishing methods, and the selling of endangered Red List species, in depth.  It’s a valuable launching point for chains that aim to be more ethical and environmentally responsible –in part due to vocal customers that want them to be.