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Hy-Vee reported that all of its active seafood suppliers have received and signed a copy of the new code of conduct since its inception in January.

Hy-Vee adopts Seafood Supplier Code of Conduct

Midwestern grocer reinforces socially responsible seafood sourcing and labor practices

Hy-Vee has enacted a new Seafood Supplier Code of Conduct (SCoC) to bolster its commitment to sourcing environmentally and socially responsible seafood and working with suppliers that embrace fair labor practices.

West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee said Wednesday that the SCoC was created to ensure that its suppliers enforce safe working conditions, workers in its seafood supply chains are treated with respect and dignity, and seafood harvesting and production processes are legal and transparent. The company noted that 100% of its active seafood suppliers have received and signed a copy of the new code since its inception in January.

Labor expectations set out in the SCoC are aligned with international norms, standards and best practices, including the United Nations (UN) Global Compact, International Labor Organization (ILO) International Labor Standards and Verité Responsible Sourcing Tool Sample Code of Conduct Provisions for Seafood Supply Chains, Hy-Vee reported.

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Hy-Vee introduced its Responsible Choice Seafood Program in 2014. Seafood products bearing the 'Responsible Choice' symbol meet Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy.

“Hy-Vee is committed to advancing social responsibility in our seafood supply chains, and this new code of conduct is an articulation of our company values and commitments that we believe align with our customers' expectations,” Jason Pride, vice president of meat and seafood at Hy-Vee, said in a statement. “This sends a clear message to all our suppliers of the standards and expectations we have for doing business together.”

Hy-Vee said it found that many of its seafood suppliers already had strong policies and practices in place, based on the results of a supplier social responsibility assessment conducted last year. Those measures include human and labor rights codes of conducts, regular human-rights risk assessments and social audits, and worker grievance mechanisms. The retailer said it aims to support the work already being done by suppliers and identify opportunities where social responsibility improvements can be made.

To ensure the quality, safety and integrity of the fresh seafood procured from suppliers, Hy-Vee also employs its own U.S. Department of Commerce (USDC) lot inspector. The company said the USDC inspector, stationed on-site at Hy-Vee’s Perishable Distributors of Iowa facility in Ankeny, Iowa, routinely checks incoming shipments of fresh and frozen seafood to make sure that it meets the retailer’s standards.

The SCoC marks Hy-Vee’s latest effort in building a comprehensive seafood sustainability program focused on both the protection of workers’ rights and environmental sustainability. In developing the program, Hy-Vee said it has collaborated with FishWise, a sustainable seafood consultancy. A year ago, FishWise confirmed that 100% of Hy-Vee’s fresh and frozen seafood and sushi were in compliance with its Responsible Choice Seafood program, introduced in February 2014. Seafood products bearing the “Responsible Choice” symbol meet Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy and are caught or farmed in a responsible manner. 

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