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Hy-Vee heightens responsible sourcing in seafood

Partnership with supplier, consultancy takes aim at illegal fishing

Hy-Vee Inc. teamed up with seafood vendor Orca Bay Foods and consulting firm FishWise as part of its efforts to drive traceability and sustainability in its supply chain.

The West Des Moines, Iowa-based grocer said the partners recently worked together to ensure that best practices were in place for the tracing of seafood products “from fishing vessel to supermarket.”

Orca Bay supplies Hy-Vee with an array of seafood items, including mahi-mahi. In tandem with FishWise, a nonprofit, sustainable seafood consultancy, the companies took an in-depth look at a mahi-mahi product to ensure that its harvest and path to Hy-Vee’s shelves complied with the supermarket chain’s seafood procurement policy, which in 2014 added a commitment to responsible sourcing.

To that end, the partners verified information that the product was being sourced legally and sustainably, Hy-Vee said. They also reviewed their policies preventing seafood obtained via illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing from entering their supply chains.

“We’re incredibly pleased with Orca Bay’s collaboration on this project and efforts to strengthen the legal fishing practices for this mahi-mahi product,” Nate Stewart, executive vice president of perishables at Hy-Vee, said in a statement. “Hy-Vee is dedicated to being a leader in sustainability, and we hope to set an example with this effort that other companies will follow.”

Orca Bay preferentially sources mahi-mahi from a fishery improvement project (FIP), Hy-Vee said, and supports the FIP in reaching its goals for improved sustainability and traceability. The vendor’s collaboration with Hy-Vee and FishWise marks an extra step toward continuous improvement of sustainability policies, the retailer noted.

“It’s exciting to see a Midwest-based store like Hy-Vee make the effort to take a deep look into the origin of their seafood products,” said Traci Linder, senior project manager at Santa Cruz, Calif.-based FishWise. “This sends a message to the seafood industry that companies of any size, from the vessel owner to the retailer, can identify areas for improvement and work with business partners to achieve their goals.

“Proactive and collaborative efforts like these have benefits that cascade beyond Hy-Vee and its customers, ultimately helping to improve the health of our oceans,” Linder added.

In May, Hy-Vee launched Fair Trade-certified wild salmon, sourced from Alaska, at all 245 of its Midwestern stores. The company said the rollout made it the first Midwest retailer to do so. The chain already sold Fair Trade-certified tuna and scallops. Last year, Hy-Vee said that all of its store-made sushi comes from sustainably and responsibly sourced fish.

Hy-Vee ranked only behind Whole Foods Market in the 10th edition of Greenpeace’s Carting Away the Oceans report, released in August, which profiled retailers on sustainable seafood sourcing. Hy-Vee received a score of 79.8, second to Whole Foods’ 80.4. Rounding out the top five were Aldi at 71.9, Target at 70.8 and Giant Eagle at 69.4.

TAGS: Seafood
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