Hy-Vee Offers 100 Percent Responsibly Sourced Fresh and Frozen Seafood in All Stores

Hy-Vee announced in August that 100 percent of its national brand frozen seafood is now responsibly sourced in compliance with its Seafood Procurement Policy. Hy-Vee is the first Midwest retailer to guarantee that 100 percent of the fresh and frozen seafood sold in its 244 stores comes from environmentally responsible sources. This builds on Hy-Vee’s announcement in December 2015 that 100 percent of its private label fresh and frozen seafood is responsibly sourced.

Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy was created with guidance from Hy-Vee’s partner FishWise, a nonprofit sustainable seafood consultancy that partnered with the retailer in 2011. The policy defines responsible seafood as coming from sources that are rated Green or Yellow by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program, certified to an environmental standard equivalent to these ratings, or sourced from credible, time-bound improvement projects. Since the policy’s inception in 2012, Hy-Vee has worked to transition more than
5 million pounds of seafood to environmentally responsible sources.

“At Hy-Vee, we take pride in our dedication to high-quality, environmentally and socially responsible seafood, and we are thrilled to be the first Midwest retailer to make this kind of commitment,” said Brett Bremser, executive vice president of perishables at Hy-Vee. “This achievement fulfills our promise to our customers to do the right thing, and we will keep working hard with our suppliers and partners to maintain this level of excellence moving forward.”

Hy-Vee and FishWise worked with suppliers of non-compliant national brand seafood products to implement sourcing improvement recommendations. In June 2017, the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) and Seafood Watch announced that two-, three-, and four-star Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP)-certified tilapia is at least equivalent to a Seafood Watch Yellow rating, bringing tilapia products previously unrated by Seafood Watch into compliance with Hy-Vee’s policy. The announcement was a result of a lengthy multi-stakeholder effort, in which Hy-Vee and FishWise participated, to strengthen the BAP tilapia standards.

“We are thrilled at Hy-Vee’s latest 100 percent achievement, and deeply appreciative of the hard work by Seafood Watch, GAA and other stakeholders to elevate BAP-certified tilapia to a level that meets Hy-Vee and other retailers’ responsible sourcing policies,” said Kathleen Mullen-Ley, project director at FishWise. “Hy-Vee continues to lead by example in sourcing responsibly, training seafood staff to be sustainability experts and educating customers on the environmental and social benefits of responsible seafood.”

Hy-Vee will continue to work with FishWise to monitor changes in sustainability ratings and certifications of its seafood products to ensure Hy-Vee maintains 100 percent compliance with its policy moving forward. In addition, Hy-Vee and FishWise are also working together to improve the environmental and social responsibility of the company’s shelf-stable tuna products.

From Shrimp Farm to Shelf

As a supplier and importer of frozen shrimp for Hy-Vee, I am familiar with the process involved in getting a bag of shrimp on the grocery shelf.  However, it takes a trip to the source to be reminded of the amazing process involved in growing and harvesting the shrimp in that bag.  I was fortunate to recently visit Thailand to see that process firsthand.

Along with our sourcing team, I recently visited the Surat Thani province of Thailand, which includes a large coastline on the Gulf of Thailand.  The lush landscape, mountains and expansive views of acres of water reminded me of some of the best tropical regions I have visited.

This province has proven to be a fertile area for shrimp farming for many years and includes a proud tradition of family-owned shrimp farms.  The farmers in this region regularly meet to share best practices for their farming techniques and to discuss advancements in the industry, such as third-party sustainability certification.  The farmers have been committed to encouraging high-quality and sustainable farming practices.

We met with many shrimp farmers in the region, including a farm owned and operated by a husband and wife.  The farmers proudly walked us through the various processes and farming techniques each use for their farms, and shared with us the challenges they have faced to maintain consistent and high-quality crops.  These farmers want their crops to be not just viable, but thriving.

The process begins with the shrimp growing in nursery ponds after they first hatch, which is the most sensitive time for the shrimp and when they have the highest risk of dying.  The farmers have worked over the years to develop techniques to improve the survival rate of shrimp during this phase, including covering the nursery ponds and monitoring the water temperature and pH with sophisticated devices.

After growing in the nursery pond for two weeks, the shrimp are transferred to the larger growing ponds, where they can grow for up to 120 days to sizes as large as 1.2 ounces per shrimp (13 to 15 shrimp per pound).  The rapid growth of these shrimp is aided by a circulating water system, multiple aerators, timed feedings to ensure the shrimp receive the necessary nutrition, and testing of the water quality throughout the growth process.

The farmers know that quality is key to their long-term viability, and quality begins with ensuring shrimp grow in the right conditions.  The farms we visited all have their farms audited and certified annually by the Global Aquaculture Alliance to ensure they are following Best Aquaculture Practices, which is the industry-leading standard for shrimp aquaculture.

When the shrimp are ready for harvesting, the manual process begins. It involves pulling nets through the pond several times and manually scooping up the shrimp with buckets.  The harvest of each pond can take up to 4 hours, and many farms have 50 or more ponds at each location.

Once harvested, the shrimp are first inspected and sorted at the farm for quality.  The shrimp are then iced and transported to the plant, where they are further inspected, peeled or cooked, frozen and packed into Hy-Vee’s retail bags.

With the worldwide demand for seafood growing and limited ocean resources to meet that growing demand, high-quality aquaculture is growing in importance.  The Surat Thani farmers are seeing this increased demand for their product, and are building more ponds and farms to meet this demand.

Seeing firsthand the best practices these farmers follow to ensure their shrimp meets and exceeds the quality expectations for Hy-Vee is always worth the effort and time, and renews my appreciation for the dedication to quality these farmers demonstrate.  Hy-Vee’s commitment to placing a quality product on the shelf truly begins with these farmers.

Hy-Vee EZ-Peel Shrimp Skewers

EZ Cajun Shrimp
Serves 4

All you need:

  • 1 pound Hy-Vee EZ peel shrimp
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Cajun seasoning

All you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Peel shrimp leaving tail attached and toss with olive oil and Cajun seasoning. Skewer shrimp and place on prepared baking sheet.
  3. Roast for 6-8 minutes, flipping once, cook until the shrimp are pink and just cooked through.

 

EZ Lemon Shrimp
Serves 4

All you need:

  • 1 pound Hy-Vee EZ peel shrimp
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Pepper seasoning
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley

All you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Peel shrimp leaving tail attached and toss with oil, lemon juice, lemon pepper and parsley. Skewer shrimp and place on prepared baking sheet.
  3. Roast for 6-8 minutes, flipping once, cook until the shrimp are pink and just cooked through.

 

EZ Sesame Shrimp
Serves 4

All you need:

  • 1 pound Hy-Vee EZ peel shrimp
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds, divided
  • Black pepper, to taste

All you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Peel shrimp leaving tail attached and toss with oil and soy sauce. Skewer shrimp and place on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sesame seeds.
  3. Roast for 6-8 minutes, flipping once and sprinkling with remaining sesame seeds, cook until the shrimp are pink and just cooked through. Season with black pepper if desired.

 

 

 

Recipe Spotlight: Grilled Mt. Cook Salmon with Chilled Quinoa Salad

All you need:

Quinoa Salad

  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 English cucumber, small diced
  • 1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, or to taste

Grilled Salmon

  • 1 tbsp garlic olive oil
  • 4 (4 to 5 oz) each Responsible Choice Mt. Cook Salmon portions
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 (5 oz) clamshell mixed spring greens
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

All you do:

  1. For the quinoa salad, in a small saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil. Add quinoa and cook over medium-high heat for 12 minutes or until all of the broth is absorbed. Remove from the heat, fluff and chill until cold.
  2. To the quinoa, add oil, lemon juice, onions, parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumber, kalamata olives and feta; toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  3. For the salmon, prepare grill for medium-high heat. Rub garlic oil over salmon to coat and season with salt and pepper. Once grill is hot, brush grill rack with olive oil and immediately place salmon on grill.
  4. Cook for 4 minutes without lifting or turning salmon. This will help give salmon nice grill marks and make it easier to move. Turn it over and cook until salmon is just cooked through and all but the very center is opaque.
  5. To serve, divide spring mix among four plates. Place 1 cup of chilled quinoa salad on the greens and top with a piece of grilled salmon. Serve with lemon wedge.

Arctic Circle Salmon

The Copper River and Bristol Bay are world-class Alaska salmon fisheries. This week, your local Hy-Vee is featuring keta salmon from a fishery north of the Arctic Circle called Kotzebue Sound.

Fed by the pristine waters of the Noatak, Selawik and Kobuk Rivers, the nutrient-rich Kotzebue Sound provides an ideal habitat for ocean-caught keta. The Arctic keta fishery located here is integral to the community of Kotzebue, largely comprised of the Inupiat people, who have inhabited the region of Kotzebue since at least the 15th century. Kotzebue residents depend on subsistence fishing for their personal use and commercial fishing for income. Fishing has traditionally been the lifeblood of the community, and salmon are revered as a most precious resource.

 

Hy-Vee has partnered with Copper River Seafoods to help support the community and livelihood of the native residents by promoting this sustainable resource of wild keta salmon.

Arctic keta salmon are distinguished by their exceptionally high-quality taste, bright color, firm texture and high omega-3 fat content.  It’s the ideal salmon for those who prefer a milder flavor salmon and will complement any marinade or sauce.

Stop at your local Hy-Vee and try some of the finest keta salmon Alaska can provide. Every purchase will help support the fishermen of Kotzebue and their community.

Photo credit: Alsaka Seafood Marketing Institute & Copper River Seafood

Alaska Travels: Featuring Alaska Crab

For the last five years, Hy-Vee has partnered with Trident Seafoods to supply Hy-Vee with Alaska crab. Each year Trident and Hy-Vee have committed to a contest among Hy-Vee seafood managers to promote Alaskan crab. The winners of the contest get to travel to Seattle where Trident is headquartered and tour Trident facilities over the course of three days. I have been lucky enough to be able to take this trip 4 of the last 5 years, including this year.

Last week, we were treated to a tour of the F/V PINNACLE, an Alaskan crab boat. It was docked in Seattle because it only catches crab and was being prepped for the upcoming season. Most crab boats switch over to salmon tendering during the summer to make extra money, but this beautiful ship stayed home. Standing on the deck of the PINNACLE was a real treat. To see how the crab are caught on TV is one thing; to see how they are caught on the deck of a boat is another. I gained instant respect for crab fishermen the minute the crab boat captain Jim handed me a spool of rope that crab fishermen toss into crab pots hundreds of times a day.  Needless to say, the 100-pound spool left me wondering how these guys do this job under such adverse conditions. The pay is good, but the danger is real. Standing by the coiler you can see how so many things can go wrong when the wind is blowing and the waves are rolling.  We talked to crab captains and listened to their stories of past failures and successes. I found it interesting that they were just as interested in how we sell crab as we were in how they catch it. We are all part of a big seafood family and each of us has our role.

Trident does more than just catch crab; in fact they are actually much bigger in the salmon and pollock business. We toured their smoking plant where they make products for many companies. We toured their pier 91 plant where they process pollock and test new products and recipes. No trip to Seattle would be complete without visiting the famous Pike Place Fish Market. There we were treated to fish throwing and catching along with the market’s unique take on selling seafood!

Captain Dave took us on a tour of the boat docks where the boats were gearing up for the Alaskan salmon season. He also took us to the famous Ballard Locks where the fish swim up man-made ladders to get to Lake Washington from the sea! And, of course, we got to eat a lot of great seafood along the way.

Hy-Vee’s partnership with Trident has grown tremendously over the last five years. Our annual crab promotion is something that families look forward to during the holiday season. Crab fishing starts in October, and Hy-Vee’s crab promotion starts in December. The Alaska crab story is one that starts with Trident crab fishermen, continues with Hy-Vee fishmongers and ends with you eating the best crab in the world!

SeaWeb Seafood Summit

The 2017 SeaWeb Seafood Summit, the world’s premier conference on seafood sustainability, was held June 5-7 in Seattle, Washington. The goal of the annual summit is to “define success and advance solutions in sustainable seafood by fostering dialogue and partnerships that lead to a seafood marketplace that is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.”

Representatives from Hy-Vee and FishWise, Hy-Vee’s nonprofit sustainable seafood partner, attended the summit along with key representatives from the seafood industry, conservation community, academia, government and the media.

Brett Bremser, executive vice president of perishables at Hy-Vee, participated in a session discussion titled “The Business Case for Supporting Small-Scale Fisheries: How to Make Environmental and Social Responsibility Sell.”

The session explored how businesses with responsible sourcing policies can support small-scale fisheries, using Hy-Vee’s business decision to transition 100 percent of the yellowfin tuna in its service cases to Fair Trade-certified sources as a successful case study. Following a short panel presentation, Bremser led a breakout group in an honest discussion about the opportunities and challenges faced by retailers as consumers demand responsible seafood products, reflecting the growing awareness of environmental and social issues.

The session was praised as being one of the most interesting and engaging sessions of the 2017 Seafood Summit.

Other highlights from the Seafood Summit included celebrating the 20th anniversary of the sustainable seafood movement, engaging sessions about the importance of transparency and full-chain traceability, and a tour of the Alaska Ocean, a 376-foot Alaska pollock catcher/processor vessel that has been featured in an episode of Modern Marvels on the History Channel.

Fair Trade Scallops

Hy-Vee announced plans to offer Fair Trade Certified™ fresh and frozen scallops in all 244 of its stores, making it the first Midwest retailer to do so. The world’s first domestically-sourced Fair Trade seafood will begin hitting Hy-Vee shelves this month. Hy-Vee plans to convert all of its scallop offerings to Fair Trade as additional supply becomes available.

Caught in the cold waters off the coast of New England, the scallops are world-renowned for their texture, color and flavor, and offer shoppers a unique opportunity to support American fishing communities and Fair Trade practices in a single purchase.

Hy-Vee is partnering with Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit organization and the leading certifier of Fair Trade products in North America, to expand its Fair Trade seafood offerings. The Fair Trade Certified™ seal recognizes best-in-class seafood companies for their commitment to sourcing ethical seafood. As part of Hy-Vee’s partnership with Fair Trade USA, it is working to build more resilient livelihoods in fishing communities, improved working and living conditions, increased supply and demand for responsibly sourced seafood, and enhanced environmental stewardship and ecosystem protection.

“Fair Trade is all about empowering the people behind our favorite products,” said Julie Kuchepatov, director of seafood at Fair Trade USA. “Thanks to Hy-Vee’s scallop offerings, Hy-Vee customers can extend these benefits to U.S. fishermen every time they shop.”

Fair Trade USA’s seafood program is the first of its kind to address both social and environmental challenges in the seafood sector. Standards for marine resources ensure that fisheries are managed legally and responsibly, preventing further overfishing. At the same time, social and human rights standards prohibit forced labor and empower fishermen with better working conditions, improved terms of trade and additional income to invest in their businesses and communities.

Take Charge of Your Health, Don’t Leave it to Salmon Else!

Looking for a healthier alternative to burgers and brats at your next summer barbecue? Bring a seasoned salmon filet or a salmon burger to throw on the grill and tell all your friends about the health benefits of seafood!

Salmon is one of the most praised fish of the sea because of its amazing nutritional content. A salmon filet is lower in calories, higher in protein and omega 3s, and lower in mercury compared to other fish of similar composition. (1)

The American Heart Association recommends consuming at least two 3.5-ounce servings of fatty fish per week because of the health benefits to the heart. These benefits include decreased risk of arrhythmia (which can lead to sudden death), decreased triglyceride levels and perhaps a slightly lower blood pressure.  This remarkable fish promotes good heart health by decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. (2)

Salmon is so versatile that anyone from beginner cooks to experienced chefs can learn to prepare it. Just starting out? Try picking up a frozen, seasoned salmon filet and just follow the directions on the package to throw it in the oven or on the grill and you’re done! Want something a little more decadent? Use smoked salmon to create a savory cream cheese and salmon pizza!

Your local Hy-Vee is here for any of your salmon recipe ingredient needs! We offer a wide selection of salmon, including fresh filets, breaded and seasoned filets, smoked salmon, salmon patties and frozen filets.

  1. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. Basic Report: 15076, fish, salmon, Atlantic, wild, raw. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/4558?manu=&fgcd. Updated May 2016.
  2. American Heart Association. Fish and omega-3 fatty acids. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/HealthyDietGoals/Fish-and-Omega-3-Fatty-Acids_UCM_303248_Article.jsp#.V73B3ybQCUl. Updated June 15, 2015