Hy-Vee has transitioned all of its fresh, frozen and value-add tuna offerings to Fair Trade Certified — which ensures that it’s caught in a way that supports fishing communities and doesn’t harm the oceans or jeopardize tuna populations — without increasing the price to consumers, said Brett Bremser, EVP of perishables for the chain.
“We got a good value on this tuna and we felt that it wasn’t something we wanted the consumer to bear the cost of, since [fair trade tuna] is the only tuna we offer,” he said.
Hy-Vee has partnered with Fair Trade USA on the effort, which encompasses all 244 of its stores. The tuna is caught with handheld fishing lines, minimizing the odds of accidentally harming other marine life and ensuring the long-term sustainability of tuna and other sea life.
Hy-Vee is also committed to sourcing only from fair trade tuna purveyors for its service case tuna. The retailer said this will build more resilient livelihoods in fishing communities and improve working and living conditions.
Earlier this year, Hy-Vee expanded its Seafood Procurement Policy to include shelf-stable tuna. The policy was developed in partnership with FishWise, a nonprofit sustainable seafood consultancy that promotes the health and recovery of ecosystems through environmentally and socially responsible business practices.
Last year, Hy-Vee met its goal to source 100% of its fresh and private label frozen seafood from responsible sources. Despite having already set a high bar, Hy-Vee will continue to improve its seafood sourcing practices, according to Bremser.
“There are definitely a lot more steps to be made,” he said. “We’re working really hard with the canned tuna offerings in grocery to bring more [Monterey Bay] yellow-rated options to consumers, and we’re working on, by the first of May, bringing 100% responsibly sourced sushi to all of our stores. That will be an industry leading step as well.”