New Report Grades Supermarkets on Seafood Decisions

Dorian Martin Health Guide

  • More and more research is pointing us toward the health benefits of eating seafood as part of a Mediterranean diet. But then there’s the recent news that some retailers don’t really sell the fish that they’re advertising. So how do you know where to shop if you want to make sure your eating sustainable seafood?

    That’s where Greenpeace comes in. The organization has issued its Carting Away the Oceans 7 report that evaluates and ranks supermarkets based on four specific criteria.  “Consumers deserve to be able to purchase seafood from retailers that care about the condition of our oceans, and that properly steward our marine resources. The days of selling fish with no regard for the environment are over,” the report states. “Companies have two choices—either implement strong seafood policies and become leaders, or ignore reality and continue their unsustainable seafood practices until many popular seafood items are no longer available. And increasingly, if retailers choose the latter course, they will reap the wrath of a consumer public that has simply had enough.”

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    The Greenpeace staff note that while more work needs to be done, for the first time they have more good news than bad news to report. Some of their findings include:

    • Walmart has introduced fish aggregating device (FAD) free skipjack as well as pole-and-line albacore in more than 3,000 stores across the United States. This means that affordable and responsibly caught canned tuna is now available to the majority of people who live in the United States.
    • Whole Foods received the top spot in the report’s rankings. Greenpeace credited it with improving its overall practices.
    • Trader Joe’s received third place, jumping 13 places by starting new sourcing policies, participating in political initiatives and also ending red list items.
    • Eighteen of 20 retailers listed in the report actively participated in the survey. Previously, the highest number had been 17.
    • The average overall CATO score this year is 5.53, which is the highest in the history of the report.

    So let’s get to the criteria. The first looks at the corporate policy and analyzes whether the company has implemented requirements and benchmarks to govern its purchasing decisions and to avoid supporting destructive fishing practices. The leaders in this area are Whole Foods, Safeway, Wegmans, Target, Harris Teeter. The laggards are BI-LO, Publix, Giant Eagle, Kroger and Meijer (although Meier has made the most progress since 2012).

    The second criterion involved initiatives, which is an appraisal of the company’s participation and leadership in coalitions and other efforts that encourage seafood sustainability and ocean conservation outside of its own industry. The leaders in this area are Wegmans, Whole Foods, Safeway, Target and Trader Joe’s. The laggards are BI-LO (Winn-Dixie), Publix, Meijer, Walmart, Giant Eagle and Price Chopper. The most improved since 2012 was Trader Joe’s.

    The third criterion was transparency, which represents the company’s performance in sharing relevant information about its supply chair and sustainability practices in relation to seafood. The leaders include Harris Teeter, Safeway, Ahold, Whole Foods and Wegmans. The laggards are BI-LO (Winn-Dixie), Publix, Costco, Walmart and Supervalu. The most improved was Price Chopper.

  • The fourth criterion was red list inventory, which focuses on stopping the sale of unsustainable seafood. The Green peace red list includes 22 difference species because of poor stock health, bycatch issues and habitat destruction. The leaders in this area are Trader Joe’s, Aldi, Costco, Target and A&M. The laggards are Kroger, Publix, SUPERVALU, Giant Eagle and BI-LO (Winn-Dixie). The most improved was Trader Joe’s.

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    So how do the retailers stack up overall? Here are the ratings, based on the criteria:
    1.    Whole Foods – 7.3
    2.    Safeway – 7.1
    3.    Trader Joe’s – 7.0
    4.    Wegmans – 6.9
    5.    Harris Teeter – 6.7
    6.    Target – 6.4
    7.    Aldi – 6.3
    8.    Ahold – 6.1
    9.    Delhaize – 5.7
    10.    Price Chopper – 5.6
    11.    Walmart – 5.4
    12.    HEB – 5.4
    13.    Costco – 5.3
    14.    Meijer – 5.3
    15.    A&P  - 5.3
    16.    Giant Eagle – 5.1
    17.    Supervalu – 4.8
    18.    Kroger – 4.4
    19.    Publix – 3.2
    20.    BI-LO/Winn-Dixie – 1.5

    Greenpeace encourages consumers to take four steps to promote sustainable seafood being sold in grocery stores. These steps are:

    • Talk to the seafood department that you want to know the truth about what they are selling so you can avoid overfishing, bycatch and ineffectual management.
    • Learn the facts about red list items so you can avoid purchasing them.
    • Vote with your dollars by rewarding grocery stores that make sustainable choices.
    • Eat thoughtfully by opting by reducing overconsumption in order to lessen the pressure on the ocean.

    Primary Source for This Sharepost:

    Greenpeace. (2013). Carting away the oceans 7.

Published On: June 03, 2013