Hy-Vee Featured On SeafoodSource.com

Hy-Vee was recently featured on the popular seafood website SeafoodSource.com after Brett Bremser, executive vice president of perishables at Hy-Vee, spoke about the company’s sustainability efforts at the SeaWeb Seafood Summit earlier this month.

The website article references Midwesterners and their growing interest, knowledge and love for seafood. It also discusses Hy-Vee’s efforts to provide high-quality, sustainable seafood to customers in the heartland.

Read the article here or in its entirety below.

Midwestern consumers embrace Hy-Vee’s sustainable seafood offerings
By Brian Hagenbuch
Published on June 9, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Despite living in the heart of red meat country, consumers in the Midwest United States are embracing a sustainable seafood campaign at Hy-Vee grocery stores, a chain with more than 240 employee-owned supermarkets throughout the Midwestern United States. 

Speaking at a session on business models that support small-scale fishing on Wednesday, 7 June at the SeaWeb Seafood Summit in Seattle, Washington, Brett Bremser, Hy-Vee’s executive vice president of perishables, said the supermarket chain started working with Fishwise in 2012 on a sustainable seafood procurement policy. But he said the real eye-opener came last year when Hy-Vee rolled out a multi-pronged marketing campaign for Fair Trade tuna.  

Bremser said the campaign was a success out of the gates, with Hy-Vee using its monthly magazine and Facebook page as well as a strong point-of-sale element to reach around three million customers and educate them on its sustainable seafood policy. 

“It’s hard to quantify what caused them to make their purchasing decision. Whether it was increased awareness through the point-of-sale and all the marketing, or whether it was all the messaging we did that resonated well with customers, but it was well over a double-digit sales increase in year one over what we were doing before,” said Bremser, adding that the uptick in sales easily justified increased costs.  

Bremser said there is a common misconception that consumer interest in traceability and sustainability is confined to the urban centers on the East and West Coasts of the United States.

“I think a lot of times people look at the Midwest and they think folks there really don’t care. That’s not true at all. They ask us a lot of questions about the sources because having more of an agricultural base, they understand animal welfare. They understand social welfare. I don’t think there’s probably anyone who is better aligned with that than Midwestern folks,” he said.

There have been challenges. Bremser said consumers get “scared” of seafood because it is more expensive than beef and pork and they do not know how to prepare it. To that end, Hy-Vee uses it’s some 400 staff chefs – the chain has in-store restaurants – to give seafood cooking classes. 

They have also ramped up their investment in educating counter personnel, going so far as to send associates to get a firsthand view of fishing operations on shrimpers in the Gulf of Mexico or salmon boats in Alaska.

“You can’t imagine how impactful that is, when the seafood manager comes back and says, I got to go to Alaska, I got to fish for that, and it was amazing and this is how it’s handled,” Bremser said.

Socially Responsible Seafood

Hy-Vee has officially committed to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, a set of 17 targets that aim to eliminate poverty, protect the environment, and promote global peace and prosperity.

Our involvement centers on a group commitment created by Conservation International and supported by our partner FishWise: Committing to Social Responsibility in Global Fisheries and Aquaculture. Our pledge addresses human rights in seafood supply chains and aligns with one of the 17 overall goals, Goal 14: Life Below Water.

As the first retailer to sign on, we are committing to best practices in social responsibility in the seafood sector, including adopting Fair Trade-certified seafood, practicing due diligence to combat possible human rights risks in our seafood supply chains, and annually reporting on progress against these targets.

Fisheries and aquaculture employ millions and are an important food source for billions of people. Significant resources have been invested in transitioning fisheries toward environmental sustainability, and more recently, human rights abuses in fisheries have placed social issues at the forefront. This voluntary commitment will create change through the backing of a global partnership including businesses, governments, intergovernmental organizations and NGO partners, that are collectively committing to drive improvements in social responsibility in the industry.

Be sure to check back periodically for updates on this goal and Hy-Vee’s milestones in social responsibility.

Hy-Vee Nori Sushi Now 100 Percent Responsibly Sourced

Hy-Vee has successfully transitioned 100 percent of its sushi to responsible sources. We guarantee that all sushi prepared and sold in our 244 Midwestern stores, including Hy-Vee Market Grille restaurants, will now contain seafood that is caught in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.

According to Hy-Vee’s recently updated Seafood Procurement Policy, we are committed to sourcing seafood in its fresh-made Nori Sushi bars and Hy-Vee Market Grille restaurants that is rated “green” or “yellow” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, certified to an environmental standard equivalent to these ratings, or in a time-bound improvement process.

Hy-Vee’s goal is to offer the art of sushi to its customers while maintaining a solid commitment to responsible menu choices. Hy-Vee’s sushi options include a variety of the freshest seafood selections, all of which are responsibly sourced.

The ahi tuna used in Hy-Vee’s Nori Sushi is made with Seafood Watch green-rated, Fair Trade-certified yellowfin tuna. The tempura and ebi shrimp are from BAP 3 Star- and BAP 4 Star-certified sources. The salmon is Seafood Watch yellow-rated Verlasso salmon from Chile. Hy-Vee’s surimi is from the Marine Stewardship Council-certified U.S. Alaska pollock fishery.

Hy-Vee Canned Tuna Ranked in Top Five by Greenpeace USA

Hy-Vee’s private label canned tuna recently ranked fifth in Greenpeace USA’s 2017 Tuna Shopping Guide, which evaluated 20 well-known brands of canned tuna throughout the United States. In the guide released April 18, Greenpeace scored brands based on how sustainable, ethical and fair the tuna products are for the world’s oceans. Factors include traceability of product, fishing methods used, product labeling and consumer education, and promoting industry change.

Hy-Vee Select Responsible Choice skipjack and albacore tuna are recognized as ocean-safe products because of their pole-and-line or pole-and-troll fishing methods, which are highly selective and have minimal impact on other species. Greenpeace also noted Hy-Vee’s progress in its Seafood Procurement Policy and recently released Shelf-Stable Tuna Policy. Greenpeace applauded Hy-Vee’s efforts in providing information on the company’s website and Seafoodies blog, informing customers about seafood sustainability.

The Greenpeace report states: “Ocean lovers rejoice: this retailer is serious about sustainable seafood. It even has a blog featuring seafood sustainability. Hy-Vee will likely move into the green category as it implements its sustainable tuna commitments and addresses key social responsibility issues that protect worker’s rights. Based on its leadership thus far, expect big changes ahead.”

Hy-Vee is dedicated to delivering a high-quality and responsibly sourced seafood selection to our customers. To accomplish this, our company continues to expand its role in keeping our oceans healthy,” said Brett Bremser, Hy-Vee’s executive vice president of perishables. “We appreciate the recognition from Greenpeace and will continue to improve and expand our responsible seafood efforts.”

Fair Trade Tuna Announcement

Hy-Vee officially announced this week that it has successfully transitioned 100 percent of its service case tuna to Fair Trade Certified™ in all 244 of its stores. Hy-Vee guarantees that all tuna on ice at its seafood counters is caught in a way that supports fishing communities and does not harm the oceans or jeopardize tuna populations.

“Hy-Vee works hard to provide the very best in seafood for our customers,” said Brett Bremser, executive vice president of perishables. “We put a lot of effort into finding top-quality, fresh seafood and ensuring it is responsibly sourced and available at a fair price.”

Hy-Vee is partnering with Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit organization and the leading certifier of Fair Trade products in North America, in the effort. 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’s 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.

According to Fair Trade USA, Hy-Vee is the only retailer currently putting forth an effort of this magnitude.
Tuna sold in the fresh case at Hy-Vee is caught with hand-held fishing lines, minimizing the odds of accidentally harming other marine life and ensuring the long-term sustainability of tuna and other sea life. While tuna stocks need to be sustained, so do the people who fish for tuna. Many fishermen are financially insecure and vulnerable. Hy-Vee is committed to sourcing only from Fair Trade tuna purveyors for its tuna in the fresh case.

“The most powerful part of Fair Trade is that it allows shoppers to cast a vote for healthy oceans, worker empowerment and responsible business with every purchase,” said Jenna Larson, senior communications manager at Fair Trade USA.

The news follows Hy-Vee’s announcement of its expanded Seafood Procurement Policy, which now includes 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.

“FishWise applauds Hy-Vee’s recent advance in Fair Trade Certified™ tuna,” said Kathleen Mullen-Ley, project director at FishWise. “This milestone is important in assuring responsibly sourced seafood that also promotes the well-being of fishers who rely on healthy fish stocks, and it sets a noteworthy precedent for the industry.

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.

Verlasso Salmon: Responsibly Sourced

Verlasso

At Hy-Vee, we value excellence in our suppliers. Verlasso offers a more consciously-farmed, premium salmon that meets our high standards of taste and quality.

Verlasso puts the health of its salmon first. The Verlasso crew raises their salmon in the beautiful, pristine waters of Patagonia, Chile. There’s very little industrial development in Patagonia, so the water is free of pollutants. This area is in the lowest region of Chile, away from industrialized farms, creating the perfect environment for fish.

The salmon also have lots of room to swim and to grow. Verlasso’s ocean pens are spacious, with fewer than four salmon, which surpasses other producer standards. The pens are widely spaced, and after each harvest period, Verlasso leaves them empty for a period of 3 to 6 months so the water can rejuvenate. The ocean waters are 60 to 80 meters deep, with a strong tidal flow for optimal salmon growth. Verlasso doesn’t use hormones and allows its fish to grow to harvest size over a period of two years.

Verlasso has also reduced the number of wild-caught feeder fish it uses. The quantity of small fish like sardines, anchovies and mackerel has been reduced by 66 percent to reduce the depletion of oceanic resources.

The company’s salmon are raised and harvested entirely on site, where the company takes pride in being able to track every moment of their lives. Verlasso can trace its fish back seven generations. Once harvested, a gill tag is put on every fillet and whole fish so that customers can learn about the region the fish come from and learn more about the farm.

Verlasso’s goal is to minimize stress in their fishes’ lives up to and including harvest, so they are as healthy as possible. The company’s harvest approach is to minimize trauma—and preserve quality. The mission at Verlasso is adaptation; its employees are committed to continuous improvement in an effort to make the harvesting of fish more sustainable for the long term.

Verlasso salmon has a bright and delicate flavor. With slightly more fat content than wild salmon and a higher moisture content, the result is a buttery yet firm texture. This extra moisture also makes it delightful to cook. Verlasso’s levels of omega-3 are ideal for a heart-healthy diet.

Verlasso is the first Atlantic salmon to receive a Good Buy Alternative “Yellow Rating” from the Monterey Bay Aquarium® Seafood Watch®. Stop in at your local Hy-Vee and talk with the seafood experts about the quality of Verlasso salmon and try some of this delicious fish!

Alaska Cod: Wild, Natural & Sustainable

In the month of October, Hy-Vee is celebrating CodFest with customers. One of the most popular North Pacific ground fish, Alaska Cod is the highest-quality cod available. Harvested throughout the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, Alaska Cod is available fresh in the fall and winter, and frozen year-round.

Alaska has pioneered the standard for sustainable, eco-friendly fisheries. Alaska’s cod fisheries are Green rated by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, indicating that Alaska cod is a “Best Choice” for consumers to purchase because it’s from fisheries that are well managed and caught using methods that cause little harm to habitats and other wildlife. By proactively ensuring a healthy, wild and sustainable harvest, Alaska is protecting its superior seafood for future generations.

With a slightly sweet flavor and a moist, firm texture, Alaska Cod adapts easily to most cooking methods. It can be roasted, poached, steamed, sautéed or deep-fried for fish and chips. Alaska Cod is also perfectly complemented by a wide array of sauces, herbs, spices and coatings. It’s available in fillets and in portions. Alaska Cod can star on its own in the center of the plate, but it’s also excellent as an ingredient in salads, appetizers and chowders.

Visit your Hy-Vee seafood counter today and ask about wild Alaska Cod.

October: Fair Trade Month + National Seafood Month

At Hy-Vee, we take seafood and sustainability seriously. For nearly a year, 100 percent of Hy-Vee’s fresh and private label frozen seafood has met our goal of being responsibly sourced.

But October is an especially important month to focus on seafood, especially Fair Trade seafood.

Being an industry leader in sustainable seafood means extending our work beyond our direct procurement and engaging with other major retailers, environmental and social NGOs and industry to address the issue of traceability and illegal fishing in global seafood supply chains.

Hy-Vee is working toward offering 100 percent Fair Trade tuna by partnering with Anova to supply our fresh seafood cases, sushi shops and Market Grille restaurants.

Fair Trade Certified products are acquired with respect for people and our planet. When customers purchase a product with the Fair Trade Certified label, they can be sure that the fishermen and workers who produced it received a fair deal for their hard work. This means better prices and wages, safer working conditions, environmental protection, and additional funds to invest in community projects like education, health care and clean water.

Fair Trade USA informed us that Hy-Vee is the only retailer that is pursuing an effort of this scale.

Why do we work to offer only the best?

“We feel we have an obligation to be a leader in seafood. Our customers are socially aware and we have to earn their trust every day,” said Nate Stewart, former vice president of perishables and current senior vice president of Hy-Vee’s northern region. “We owe it to our customers to uphold our standards and provide them with what they deserve, which is safe and sustainable seafood.”

Hy-Vee’s intention is to provide the best sources and procedures in procurement and handling. Fair Trade is one more step in that direction.

“We hope to be an example and continue to be socially responsible, quality focused and transparent when it comes to buying and selling seafood,” Stewart said. “Our customers put their trust in us and we have to earn it by delivering the best product we can find, source it responsibly, and sell it at a fair price.”

In the future, Hy-Vee will continue to work with our suppliers to ensure our standards are being upheld in all levels of seafood procurement. Hy-Vee wants to promote safe and good working conditions, environmental responsibility and true partnerships with all of our suppliers.

“This is a never-ending task, so we take each piece of our business and try to make it the best it can be.”

Family Meals Month: Seafood Style

September brings changes to family routines after summer vacation. It’s back-to-school season, which means busy schedules, but it’s also National Family Meals Month.

This September, Hy-Vee is celebrating National Family Meals Month by encouraging families to eat one more meal together a week. To help accommodate the schedules of busy families, Hy-Vee is offering in-store family cooking classes with its dietitians, easy pickup and delivery meal options and the opportunity for children to eat free (with the purchase of an adult entrée) every day in September at the more than 90 Hy-Vee Market Grille restaurants.

Seafood is a great addition to your family meals. Seafood can be quick, simple and a healthy part of your family’s dinner spread. Even if you have picky eaters in the family, it doesn’t mean you can’t try family meals with seafood. Crunchy fish sticks, shrimp and noodles, salmon with a sweet soy glaze, creamy clam chowder and fish sandwiches are some family favorites. Click here to visit our recipe section for ideas your family with enjoy.

In recognition of National Family Meals Month, Hy-Vee also is announcing a major charity donation challenge to get families back around the dinner table. In September, for every family who posts a photo of the family eating a meal together on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and uses the hashtag #HyVeeFamilyMeals, Hy-Vee will donate $1 to Meals from the Heartland, up to $100,000.

So stop by your local Hy-Vee seafood counter this month and pick up some fresh seafood for your whole family to enjoy. Don’t forget to show us your meal via #HyVeeFamilyMeals!

Created by the Food Marketing Institute, National Family Meals Month is an industry-inspired movement to raise consumer awareness of the health and societal benefits of sharing frequent family meals. More than 76 percent of people report that conflicting schedules are a primary barrier to cooking and eating together on a regular basis. However, research shows that children who share regular family meals benefit from better grades, improved nutrition, stronger family relationships and higher self-esteem, and they are less likely to use drugs and alcohol. According to a 2013 Harris Poll, only 30 percent of American families share dinner together every night.

Fair Trade Certified Tuna

Hy-Vee is excited to feature yellowfin tuna from the world’s first Fair Trade Certified™ fishery in Hy-Vee fresh seafood cases this week. Hy-Vee is currently the only retailer working towards 100% Fair Trade tuna throughout our stores. Hy-Vee partners with Anova Food to supply Fair Trade tuna for our fresh seafood cases, sushi shops and Market Grille restaurants.

The Fair Trade Certified yellowfin tuna comes from a relatively new group of fishermen in the Indonesian Maluku island chain. The fishermen use single-hook handlines attached to handmade kites to catch the fish – a very low-impact and environmentally friendly method.

In October 2014, four fishing associations – representing roughly 100 fishermen – became certified according to Fair Trade’s Capture Fisheries Standard. Fishing & Living, Masyarakat dan Perikanan Indonesia (MDPI), Anova Food, Fair Trade USA and the fishermen worked together to certify the Central Maluku yellowfin tuna fishery. Since initial certification, the Indonesian program has grown and now encompasses almost 600 fishermen and more than 30 fishing associations.

To fulfill Fair Trade requirements, data is collected including information on who caught the fish, the catch per trip, the amount of bycatch per trip and whether there was any sighting or interaction with an endangered, threatened or protected species. MDPI hosts training sessions to teach fisherman about these practices and why they’re important. MDPI also provides safety, first aid and navigation training, as required for certification.

Fair Trade Certified products are acquired with respect for people and our planet. When customers purchase a product with the Fair Trade Certified label, they can be sure that the fishermen and workers who produced it received a fair deal for their hard work.

Fair Trade’s goal is to see more resilient livelihoods in coastal communities, improved working and living conditions, increased supply and demand for responsibly sourced seafood, and enhanced environmental stewardship and ecosystem protection. Fisherman and consumers all benefit when these fishing communities enjoy better prices and wages, safer working conditions, environmental protection, and additional funds to invest in community projects including education, health care and clean water.

We proudly label this item with Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice logo. We invite you to visit your local Hy-Vee seafood counter this week and take home some fresh, delicious and Fair Trade Certified yellowfin tuna!