One recent report, The Life Cycle Assessment of Proteins (sponsored by The Association of Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers) caught my attention as it compared the carbon impacts of beef, chicken, pork, plant-based meat (Impossible Burger brand) with wild Alaskan pollock.
Earlier this month the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published one of the most comprehensive reports based on the analysis of more than 14,000 scientific studies warning that unless change happens quickly the world is headed for further climate disruptions for centuries to come. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement following the release of the report that it is a “code red for humanity.”
The food we consume does play a role in mitigating climate change. Discussions on food waste, plant-based everything, reducing petroleum based (and wasteful) packaging, the inefficiencies of transportation as well as the impact on various food groups abound. One recent report, The Life Cycle Assessment of Proteins (sponsored by The Association of Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers) caught my attention as it compared the carbon impacts of beef, chicken, pork, plant-based meat (Impossible Burger brand) with wild Alaskan pollock. The reason the report piques my interest was that today, wild Alaska Pollock is used as an ingredient in over 1,000 foods – from fish tacos, sandwiches, and prepared foods.
It was time to reach out and talk to a fisherman about this report and the future of fishing.
Dr. Craig Morris is the CEO for GAPP and has spent much of his career prior in traditional agriculture, before that he served as the Deputy Administrator over USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and led the Agency’s regulatory programs for a variety of industries including fish. Morris led the Carbon Impact project partnership with a leading sustainability consultancy Quantis which was a two-year project that analyzed three years of millions of lines of data; a huge undertaking as Alaska is the largest Wild caught fishery in the world for human food. The data included every aspect of the supply chain from flying fishing boat crews back and forth from Alaska, to what the crews ate, to the transportation (including diesel and refrigerant usage) to, in his words “being able to say with confidence, what we inherently knew to be true, that we had a very climate friendly protein.”
The Carbon Impact Comparisons are:
The findings are based on the CO2-eq per kilogram of protein as of July 14, 2021.
One of Morris’ driving forces for the study he says was that “more and more, we knew that those corporations (CPG, grocery retailers and foodservice operators) were making sustainability commitments, hiring sustainability officers and making movements to improve their carbon footprint number. And in many cases, trying to become carbon neutral.” According to Morris from GAPP’s B2B perspective they knew that their sustainability story, if it was done in the right way, ISO standards, with the foremost experts in the world serving on our review panel, GAPP knew that that would help our downstream partners feel confident in our product, want to continue to sell our product, and frankly, even brag about their product. Then came the consumer focus groups to validate Desautel and Morris’ thesis. They presented 50 factual attributes of fish and found the top 5 that resonated with consumers: caught in Alaska, wild-caught, mild tasting, unmatched nutritional benefits and fits within their definition of sustainability.
Jeremy Woodrow is the Executive Director of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) and was born in Alaska to a fifth generation commercially fishing Alaskan family in Southeast Alaska and leads the organization’s public-private partnership between the state and the Alaska seafood industry to promote Alaska Seafood which sponsors The Alaska Symphony of Seafood and works closely with GAPP and Morris. Alaska, he says, has always been the leader when it comes to sustainability. This new research is just honestly, another feather in our cap. And as a region in the world and the U.S. we've always highlighted how Alaska is unique and different. So as consumers go into the grocery store or into the restaurant, they have confidence when they see Alaska before of that species name, or whether it's wild, Alaska, or Alaska salmon, they know that with that Alaska name brand, they're getting assurances, whether that's in sustainability, whether that's in quality. And as we know what sustainability is, it is evolving, and that also includes the human factor of the area that it's harvested, and that there is a social responsibility attached to these fisheries. ASMI is led by five pillars: families & communities, fisheries management, resource utilization, certification and social responsibility.
Which aligns nicely with what Winsight Grocery Business magazine reported in their July/August issue published just yesterday, that there are 7 major grocers on a mission of sustainability: Amazon AMZN +0.2%, Natural Grocers, Kroger KR -1.6%, ALDI, Walmart WMT -1.1%, Jimbo’s and Albertson’s and shared recent research from the Hartman Group Sustainability: Beyond Business as Usual found that consumer sustainability concerns and beliefs, especially those surrounding environmental responsibility, are emerging as “true motivators to action among mainstream consumers”. The research, Jennifer Straley WGB’s editor in chief also writes that the research finds consumers are also thinking bigger when it comes to sustainability – increasing prioritizing the health of the entire planet in their purchasing decisions.
In May of this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) released its latest report on per capita seafood consumption – and reported it has achieved its all time high of 19.2 pounds per person (based on the latest data reported from 2019). Their report also stated that the U.S. seafood consumption between 2013-2016 was among the lowest in the industrialized world.
It is time we realize the correlation between those foods that are good for our bodies and good for the planet; and when you do, there is little doubt that seafood, and it appears that those fish from Alaska top the list to accomplish both.