Seafood You Can Trust

When it comes to quality and freshness, Hy-Vee always wants to be the best at it. That’s why Hy-Vee placed a full-time U.S.D.C. Lot Inspector onsite at PDI, our perishable distribution center in Ankeny, Iowa.

The inspector examines all of our fresh and frozen seafood to ensure that products meet all of Hy-Vee’s standards and specifications. This is a voluntary program that goes above standard government requirements for seafood.

Seafood is a global industry, which requires Hy-Vee to source responsible seafood from all over the world. Having a full-time government inspector in our warehouse every day, inspecting the products we bring in, helps us to ensure that we are truly sending our stores and customers the freshest, highest quality responsibly sourced seafood in the Midwest.

I have worked with Bryan Sauve, our inspector, for several years now. He is one of the most thorough and knowledgeable people I have ever met in the industry. He takes pride and ownership in what he does. We are very thankful to have him onsite and as a part of our seafood program. He has helped Hy-Vee create one of the best seafood programs in the country.

Our customers can buy Hy-Vee seafood with confidence, knowing that they are bringing home some of the best seafood available.

Bairdi: The Other Snow Crab

Hy-Vee Responsible Choice Alaska Bairdi Snow Crab are considered by fisherman and crab lovers as the best crab on the market. Bairdi’s exceptional sweet flavor and firm texture is easily noticeable over its cousin, the Opilio Snow Crab.

Just how good are the Bairdi? We asked an Alaska Bairdi crab fisherman his opinion.

“I pull out the king crab for guests. I keep the Bairdi for myself!” said Jake Jacobsen, captain of the Polar Sea and Ocean Hunter. Jacobsen has worked for Alaska and West Coast fisheries since 1968 and has operated many vessels. He is currently executive director of Inter-Cooperative Exchange, a crab harvesting cooperative that typically harvests about 70 percent of the Bering Sea crab quota.

Bairdi Snow Crab are found throughout the Bering Sea and typically caught through the use of crab pots, similar to those used to catch the larger King crab. The pots are placed at depths ranging from 114 to 1,100 feet. The season opens in January and typically runs through March or April. The catch is all based on a strict quota basis that is managed by the State of Alaska, the leader in seafood sustainability.

Hy-Vee crab lovers will have the opportunity to try some of this delicious crab throughout the month of June at their local Hy-Vee seafood market.

World’s Premium Whitefish

Responsible Choice Alaska halibut’s eye-catching pearl white flesh and mild, slightly sweet flavor is sure to satisfy any seafoodie’s appetite. Many consider it to be the “steak” of seafood due to its versatility in the kitchen for many signature dishes. The largest of all flatfish, Alaska halibut can grow well over 300 pounds and are referred to by many fisherman as “barn boards” because of their impressive size.

Commercial halibut fishing began more than a century ago in the 1890s. Company-owned steamers carried several small dories or two-man rowboats. It was quite different compared to today’s modern-day halibut boats, which are much larger and versatile for use in all types of Alaska species fisheries.

Each year the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) uses scientific data to manage and establish the season and determine catch limits. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Alaska is responsible for allocating the catch limits among users and user groups fishing off Alaska and developing regulations for the fishery, in line with commission recommendations.

The commercial halibut fishery is very selective in the fish catches, and the bycatch is minimal. This is due to the extremely large circle hooks used when setting longlines. The circle hooks also increase the catch rates and improve the survival rate of undersized halibut that are caught and released. Other regulations, devices and gear restrictions are enforced to also help reduce bycatch and minimize habitat damage.

Because of these excellent management practices, Hy-Vee proudly places the Hy-Vee Responsible Choice logo on Alaska halibut throughout Hy-Vee’s seafood departments.

Hy-Vee customers can stop in now and try the fish to see why they are called the “world’s premium whitefish.” Have your choice between a nice thick fresh halibut steak or premium trimmed boneless halibut portion.

The Perfect Shrimp. The Perfect Partner.

When the PDI Seafood Buying Team is sourcing seafood for Hy-Vee, quality comes first. The team demands perfection when looking for a supplier. And that’s what the team found in Paul Piazza and Son and Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice wild shrimp program: the perfect shrimp with the perfect supplier.

Since Paul Piazza began selling fresh seafood from New Orleans’ famous French Market 120 years ago, the fourth-generation family-owned and operated business has been driven by passion and commitment to supplying the country with the freshest, best-tasting and highest quality Wild Caught Gulf Shrimp that the nutrient-rich in-shore waters of Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico have to offer.

Paul Piazza and Son is headquartered in New Orleans, Louisiana. Premium Gulf of Mexico Domestic Shrimp is its only business. It is one of the largest processors in the domestic industry and has the capacity to offer over 25 million pounds of Gulf Domestic Shrimp from its state-of-the-art USDC plants in Louisiana and Texas.

Renewed Standard of Excellence

Like much of the New Orleans region, Paul Piazza and Son’s business was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Owners and managers looked at the situation as an opportunity to not only rebuild, but also reinvent their company, increase their capabilities and achieve their goal of becoming the source for premium Wild Caught Gulf Shrimp.

Re-energized, they opened a state-of-the-art processing facility in Delcambre, Louisiana, and modernized their New Orleans plant using cutting edge technology. They also expanded their distribution and product mix.

This expansion and innovation has helped Paul Piazza and Son become the shrimp sourcing, processing and national distribution powerhouse that it is today.

Premium Process

Paul Piazza and Son’s vertically integrated shrimp processing business keeps it as close to its products as possible and allows it total quality control — from the moment the shrimp is harvested from the nutrient-rich waters of the Gulf until it’s delivered to your Hy-Vee store.

Paul Piazza and Son contracts the Gulf’s top shrimp boat captains to work exclusively with its company. The committed boats then unload their catch of wild-caught white and brown shrimp in the company’s state-of-the-art processing facilities. The product is next sorted and packed to Hy-Vee specifications and then delivered to the PDI warehouse where it is ready to ship to your Hy-Vee store.

Paul Piazza and Son and Hy-Vee/PDI have plans to grow our partnership and look forward to expanding the Responsible Choice wild shrimp program in Hy-Vee stores, making it readily available for Hy-Vee customers’ dinner tables.

Consolidated Catfish: Hy-Vee’s Source for Catfish

If you’re a fan of catfish and a Hy-Vee customer, it’s likely you’ve enjoyed a product from Consolidated Catfish. Based in Isola, Mississippi, 80 miles north of Jackson, Consolidated Catfish invested millions about a decade ago to create a quality aquaculture environment with the best quality product in the industry. With these improvements in place, Consolidated Catfish is one of the most modern and technically advanced plants in the industry.

Consolidated Catfish produces catfish with exceptional taste and quality. Catfish are raised in ponds filled with fresh water pumped from underground wells. They are nurtured on a diet of high-protein food pellets that give them a light, delicate taste and tender texture. U.S. farm-raised catfish is considered to be one of the most sustainable fish species available, making it a Responsible Choice!

Consolidated Catfish imposes stringent quality control measures, including taste-testing at the farm before harvesting and again at the plant before the fish are unloaded. This helps to ensure a premium, high-quality product. The catfish are kept alive up to the minute they are processed, making them among the freshest freshwater fish available. The entire processing procedure is completed in less than 30 minutes. The fish are then placed on ice or individually quick-frozen to preserve the taste and quality of the fish. To further ensure the quality of its catfish, Consolidated Catfish was the first processor in the catfish industry to implement a USDC-approved HACCP quality assurance program.

The farm-raised catfish is a pure, white meat fish that’s lean and an excellent source of protein. It’s versatile and can be enjoyed fried, blackened, poached, grilled, barbecued, baked or broiled. Hy-Vee stores offer a variety of Consolidated Catfish products that include whole fish, fillets, nuggets, strips, breaded catfish and hushpuppies.

Responsible Choice, Fair Trade Tuna

Fair Trade Certified logoThis month Hy-Vee is proud to promote our Responsible Choice Natural Blue Frozen Handline Caught Yellowfin Tuna Steaks. What sets this apart from similar products is the fact it is Fair Trade Certified.

Hy-Vee partnered with Anova Seafood to supply our Natural Blue Brand Tuna Steaks. Anova’s product is the first tuna steak in the world to be Fair Trade Certified. This is another great step toward seafood sustainability throughout the industry.

What is Fair Trade?

Fair Trade is a simple way to make every purchase matter. When consumers purchase a product with the Fair Trade Certified™ label, they know the fishermen and workers in the production process received a fair contract for their hard work. These contracts provide better prices and wages, safer working conditions and environmental protection. The communities also receive premiums to assist with community development, helping with necessary projects like education, health care and clean water.

How will fishermen and fisheries benefit from Fair Trade practices?

  • More Resilient Livelihoods in Coastal Communities: Fair Trade standards ensure safe working and living conditions and equitable prices.
  • Greater Access to Capital: Fishermen can use Fair Trade Premiums to invest in projects that improve the welfare of the community.
  • Enhanced Environmental Stewardship: Fair Trade criteria include responsible resource management and ecosystem protection.

For additional information on this Fair Trade program, read more on the program’s website.

Responsible Choice Walleye Available at Hy-Vee

Hy-Vee opened two brand new stores in September – the very first two in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. Although Hy-Vee has had several Minnesota store locations for years, these store openings reminded us just how much our customers love walleye.

Walleye is king in Minnesota, and customers throughout Hy-Vee’s trade area enjoy the fish. Hy-Vee’s walleye is a Responsible Choice. It’s wild caught by a recently MSC-certified fishery in Lake Erie. You can read more about the certification on the Marine Stewardship Council’s website:

Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice walleye is sourced from La Nassa Foods, located in the heart of the Lake Erie fishing community in Kingsville, Ontario. La Nassa Foods has been a leader in the processing and distribution of fresh water fish for nearly 30 years.

Strategically located in Kingsville, one of the major Lake Erie commercial fishing ports, La Nassa manages the finest Lake Erie fish landed daily by their fishing fleet.
La Nassa’s Responsible Choice walleye is a premium-quality, versatile and upscale delicacy. Its lean, snowy white flesh flakes when cooked, providing a sensational, sweet-flavored taste.

Another popular fish Hy-Vee sources from La Nassa is whitefish. This fish’s delicate white flesh has a large flake and rich flavor. The popularity of this fish can be attributed to its versatility. It can be used with virtually any fish recipe.

Responsible Choice walleye assures customers that this choice is of the highest quality and that Hy-Vee and the companies we work with are committed to responsible seafood. Visit your local Hy-Vee’s seafood department – no matter where you’re located in Hy-Vee land – to try these delicious, Responsible Choice items today.

Hy-Vee Offering Responsible Choice Yellowfin Tuna – Perfect for Sushi

Hy-Vee stores are offering a new Responsible Choice Sushi-Ready Yellowfin Tuna for our customers. The tuna is caught in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Indonesia is one of the most important producers of tuna and large pelagic fish in the world. Indonesia’s territorial waters adjoin both the Indian Ocean and the Western Central Pacific Ocean, two of the world’s most important fishing grounds for tuna.

Fishermen use small vessels and artisanal handlines – one hook, one line and one fish at a time. This fishing method does not impact other species or the marine environment.

Promptly after being caught, the tuna is quickly frozen to -76 degrees Fahrenheit to protect perfect natural color, flavor and texture. It also suspends all bacterial action. The specific process used for this tuna is the key to keeping the sashimi quality. The tuna is never treated with preservatives.

This is truly the best quality tuna available with a full chain of custody traceability. Visit your local Hy-Vee and ask one of our seafood specialists about Responsible Choice Sushi-Ready Yellowfin Tuna today.

Seafood Watch Upgrades Louisiana Wild Shrimp from Red “Avoid” to Yellow “Good Alternative”

Last month, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program removed Louisiana shrimp caught with otter trawls from its “Avoid” list. The Seafood Watch program now lists Louisiana shrimp the same as it does nearly all other Gulf of Mexico shrimp caught using otter trawls – as a Yellow, “Good Alternative.”

Seafood Watch had recommended in 2013 that consumers avoid the wild shrimp caught by Louisiana fishers because of the state law banning the enforcement of turtle-excluder devices on all shrimp trawls. Often referred to as TEDs, the devices create an opening in shrimp nets to allow trapped turtles to escape before they drown. There are five species of sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, and all are protected under the Endangered Species Act. They are loggerhead, green, Kemp’s Ridley, hawksbill and leatherback turtles.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed a bill on July 1 repealing a 1987 state law that prohibited Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agents from enforcing federal turtle-excluder device regulations. The Louisiana House approved the bill last month 100-0. This change prompted the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program to upgrade Louisiana shrimp caught with otter trawls as a “Good Alternative.”

You’ll find Wild Gulf peeled and deveined Responsible Choice shrimp and other shrimp varieties in our weekly ads throughout the month of August. Just ask your friendly Hy-Vee Seafood team for more information.

What is the Warm Blob?

Scientists across NOAA Fisheries are watching an expanse of extraordinarily warm water spanning the Gulf of Alaska that could affect marine life. The warm spot – coined the “Warm Blob” by meteorologists – appeared nearly two years ago. The longer it stays, the greater impact it will have on ocean life from jellyfish to salmon, researchers say.

The water in the Warm Blob is about five degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the typical ocean temperature. Marine animals from Mexico to Alaska are impacted and it may be altering weather across the continent.

Although five degrees may not seem like a lot, the concern stems from the fact that the Warm Blob has grown from a small patch of water to 500 miles across, and is the largest and longest-lasting temperature difference on record.

Scientists aren’t sure exactly what caused the blob, but they think it may have links to the California drought. The temperature change also has caused creatures from tropical and temperate zones to wander north into places where they’re not usually found, and others that normally stay far out at sea have ventured closer to the coast, according to a Seattle Times article.

Changes in sea surface temperature can alter marine ecosystems. For example, variations in ocean temperature will affect what species of plants, animals and microbes are present in a location, change migration and breeding patterns, and threaten sensitive ocean life such as corals. Also, because the oceans continuously interact with the atmosphere, sea surface temperature can also have profound effects on global climate. Increases in sea surface temperature have led to an increase in the amount of water vapor over the oceans, increasing the risk of heavy rain and snow. Changes in sea surface temperature can also shift storm tracks, contributing to droughts in some places.

To read more about the Warm Blob phenomenon, click on this recent article from Discovery: