Seafood Waste: In Numbers

It’s a hard number to stomach, but nearly half of the edible U.S. seafood supply is lost each year. Most of the waste stems from consumers, while additional waste is due to bycatch – catching unintended species of fish, turtles and other creatures and discarding them. A smaller percentage is lost in distribution and retail operations.

These findings come from new research by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF), published in the November issue of Global Environmental Change.

“Food waste in general is a source of concern at Hy-Vee,” said Pat Hensley, senior vice president of governmental affairs. “We’re continuously working to combat the issue. Our focus is on working with our suppliers and employees to match supply and demand and to identify other methods of reducing shrink. Given the value of seafood, both economically and a source of healthy protein, anything we can do to reduce waste is time well invested.”

Hy-Vee is not alone in its concerns about the sustainability of the world’s seafood resources. In the U.S. and around the world, people are being advised to eat more seafood, but overfishing, climate change, pollution, habitat destruction and the use of fish for other purposes besides human consumption threaten the global seafood supply.

The Johns Hopkins study analyzed the seafood waste issue by focusing on the amount of seafood lost annually at each stage of the food supply chain and at the consumer level. It found that the amount wasted each year is roughly 2.3 billion pounds. Of that waste, the study found that 330 million pounds are lost in distribution and retail, 573 million pounds are lost when commercial fishers catch the wrong species of fish and then discard it (bycatch) and a staggering 1.3 billion pounds are lost at the consumer level.

For more information, you can read details of the study here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378015300340 and here http://www.jhsph.edu/news/news-releases/2015/nearly-half-of-u-s-seafood-supply-is-wasted.html

Farm-Raised But Responsible Choice

The reputation of farm-raised fish and seafood is improving to the point that you may be eating more farm-raised seafood than you know. Unless it’s specifically labeled as wild caught, the seafood you’re ordering or purchasing is likely farm-raised. Today, half of the seafood eaten in the United States is farmed. The practice is growing quickly; just as cattle and chickens are raised for food, now seafood is being raised to meet the growing global demand.

The most sustainable type of aquaculture is done in land-based, closed-containment systems that recirculate and clean the water. Technology is improving to make these systems more affordable.

The problem with farm-raised fish in the past was that the fish were confined too tightly. These large pens of farmed fish also can cause disease and create waste and uneaten feed that go to the sea floor, causing negative impacts on crustaceans and other sea life.

But those practices are mostly in the past. Hy-Vee’s commitment to responsibly choose its seafood by the end of 2015 means our customers won’t have to worry about those harmful practices.

Modern aquaculture practices bear no resemblance to those past practices. When it’s done right and responsibly, aquaculture can be environmentally friendly and can be a crucial way to supplement wild-caught fish supplies.

Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice Initiative Praised by Greenpeace; Ranked Among the Best in the US

Greenpeace released its 2015 Carting Away the Oceans (CATO) report on July 14, ranking Hy-Vee at third out of the 25 largest supermarket chains in the U.S. Greenpeace evaluates and ranks supermarkets in the CATO report based on their efforts to protect both the oceans and seafood industry workers since 2008.

Hy-Vee moved up to the top three this year, finishing in the “good” category and scoring above a 7 out of 10 for the first time. Hy-Vee was evaluated on the sustainability of its seafood in four key areas: policy, initiatives, labeling and transparency and Red List inventory. This is only the second year Hy-Vee has been included in the report.

Hy-Vee was praised by Greenpeace for its efforts to address illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing through political advocacy and participation in industry and NGO-led conversations to identify solutions.

Greenpeace congratulated Hy-Vee on its Responsible Choice canned skipjack and albacore tuna products, which are produced exclusively with tuna caught using environmentally friendly methods. You can read more about Hy-Vee’s canned tuna in this Seafoodies post.

Hy-Vee’s decision to discontinue Chilean sea bass – due to concerns about overfishing and bycatch of threatened or endangered species – also helped improve its ranking, as it’s the only of the top retailers to do so. Hy-Vee’s stance against genetically modified fish was also highlighted as a notable achievement.

Greenpeace writes: “After its ‘Carting Away the Oceans‘ debut last year, Hy-Vee doubled down on its strong performance, coming in third place overall and entering the good category for the first time. Hy-Vee means business about sustainable seafood. … Hy-Vee dropped Chilean sea bass, issued a strong public statement against GMO seafood, is on track to hit its 2015 sustainability goals and twice weighed in at key moments to address Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing in the industry by sending letters to Congress.”

Whole Foods ranked first in the report, while Wegmans came in at second. Since the report’s inception, many large retailers including Hy-Vee have developed robust seafood policies. In the CATO Report’s ninth edition, 80 percent of the retailers profiled received at least a passing score of 4 out of 10.

To view the full report, Carting Away the Oceans 9, click here.

Seven Foundations of Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy

Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy guides our efforts to improve our seafood departments. It states that it is Hy-Vee’s intent to sell seafood that is not only safe for consumption but also is harvested or raised in a manner that provides for its long-term sustainability while minimizing damage to the environment and other sea life.

There are seven foundations of Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy:

  1. Safety, Quality and Freshness. Our procurement practices are designed to ensure safety, quality and freshness are of the highest priority.
  2. Legal Compliance. Hy-Vee will never knowingly buy or sell seafood that has been harvested, transported or otherwise handled in an illegal manner.
  3. Supplier Integrity. We will only do business with suppliers of high ethical standards with a proven commitment to the quality, safety and sustainability of their seafood products.
  4. Quality Information. The concept of seafood sustainability is complex. Decisions on what constitutes sustainable seafood will be made based on fundamentally sound, high-quality data, science and research from a variety of credible sources.
  5. Education and Communication. Hy-Vee will keep our customers, employees and stakeholders informed about our efforts to improve the sustainability and overall quality of our seafood supply.
  6. Transparency. Information on our seafood supply will be transparent, traceable and readily available to our customers.
  7. Partnership. Hy-Vee will work in partnership with our customers, suppliers, other retailers and interested stakeholders to continuously improve the sustainability of the seafood supply chain.

To ensure consistency with these seven foundations, Hy-Vee works with employees, suppliers, regulatory agencies and others to guarantee seafood quality, safety and sustainability.

Our Seafood Procurement Policy outlines our long-term mission to improve our seafood. We are currently focusing on improving our fresh and private label frozen seafood, but we are also looking ahead to identify other areas where we can transition more of our seafood items to be sourced from environmentally responsible partners.

Hy-Vee features Responsible Choice Mt. Cook farmed salmon

A heart-healthy and tasty option this season, Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice Mt. Cook farmed salmon is packed with omega-3 fatty acids; vitamins A, B, D and E; and plenty of protein power. Sourced from Mt. Cook Alpine salmon, the salmon is from farms rated as a Green “Best Choice” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, which is the highest rating farmed salmon has ever received. The seafood is farmed in a freshwater lake in southern New Zealand, and the farm uses no antibiotics, growth hormones or chemicals to bring the fish to market.

Earth Day: How Does Responsible Seafood Fit into the Larger Environmental Conservation Picture?

Happy Earth Day. For 45 years, Earth Day has been a celebration of environmental conservation in the United States. The earth is facing a lot of environmental stresses, including overfishing, climate change, air and water pollution and a growing human population. Earth Day is part of a global effort to protect the planet and secure a sustainable future.

Earth Day activities aim to raise awareness on many topics, such as climate change, organic agriculture, clean air and water, clean energy, reducing consumption, recycling, endangered species, healthy oceans and more.

How does sourcing seafood responsibly fit into the larger picture?

The health of our oceans is vital to the environment. The main focus of Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice program is to stop global overfishing. The ocean faces many “health problems” like ocean acidification, offshore drilling and pollution. When the pressure on the oceans from overfishing is reduced, the overall health of the oceans improves. It’s important to reduce habitat damage caused by harmful fishing practices, which also helps reduce the threat to a sustainable ocean future.

Buying Responsible Choice seafood is a way for Hy-Vee customers to contribute to the global Earth Day effort to secure a sustainable future. When customers demand responsibly sourced seafood at grocery stores and restaurants, companies translate that demand up the supply chain and motivate producers to minimize the environmental impact of their operations.

Customers can commit to purchasing seafood caught in U.S. waters, which has well-managed fisheries with enforcement of environmental laws. Shoppers may also consider adding local produce to meals to cut down on fossil fuels used in the transportation of fruits and vegetables.

Consumers can treat every day like Earth Day by using reusable products like bags and water bottles to cut down on waste and reduce energy use. Educating themselves about environmental issues is the first step people can take to learn how to improve their habits to be less harmful to the environment. If everyone makes individual efforts to minimize their impact, together we’ll take a large step forward to protect the planet and secure a sustainable future.

Hy-Vee is striving to be a leader in conservation efforts for the betterment of our environment and our customers. You can read more details at hy-vee360.com and on our recently updated Responsible Choice Seafood website.

Hy-Vee Responsible Choice Rainbow Trout, A U.S. Commodity

With global seafood consumption on the rise, it must be a priority for suppliers and retailers alike to be conscious of environmental impact, responsible sourcing and food safety implications of the seafood they produce and sell to consumers. That is why Hy-Vee began the Responsible Choice initiative. Through the program, Hy-Vee has established specific guidelines to offer high-quality seafood that is safe for consumption and harvested in a manner that provides for a sustainable future.

As of this January, 79 percent of Hy-Vee’s fresh and private label frozen seafood met the goal of being responsibly sourced and traceable or in a time-bound improvement process by year-end 2015. Rainbow trout is no exception.

A member of the salmon family, wild trout are anadromous, spending part of their life cycle in freshwater as rainbow trout and part in salt water as steelhead trout. Farmers in the United States began commercially raising rainbow trout during the 1960s.

The most common production system for U.S. farmed rainbow trout is called a “raceway” – where farmers divert water from natural waterways, such as rivers and streams, into a channel containing the trout. The water is then treated before being discharged back into the original waterway. U.S.-farmed trout are then fed using a formulation of relatively low levels of fishmeal and fish oil, reducing the impacts to wild fish populations.

Regulation of rainbow trout farms in the U.S. is considered effective, as best management practices have been shared and utilized on a nation-wide scale. Through a system of checks and balances, trout farmers are able to monitor the health of the trout and its safety for human consumption.

Rainbow trout farmed in the U.S. has been given a Green “Best Choice” rating by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program due to the environmentally friendly production methods used, and the minimal impact to habitats or other wildlife.

Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice rainbow trout is sourced in a region called the Magic Valley in Idaho by Clear Springs Foods, which upholds the high standards established through Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice initiative. Hy-Vee continues to keep our consumers and the environment top of mind to ensure a safe, traceable and responsible selection of seafood is available to our customers.

Hy-Vee Select Canned Tuna: A Responsible and Healthy Choice

Canned tuna is one of the top three most-consumed seafood products in the United States. In fact, each American ate an average of 2.6 pounds of canned tuna in 2012, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s (NOAA) FishWatch.gov. Considering that tuna is a rich source of heart-healthy omega-3s, niacin and vitamins, it is not surprising that canned tuna is in such high demand.

However, its popularity has also led to the decline of many tuna stocks in the world’s oceans. Some fishing methods used for tuna can also have negative impacts on other species in the ocean, such as the unintentional capture of sea turtles, sharks and seabirds, or “bycatch” of non-target species. Given these concerns, Hy-Vee is pleased to offer two Responsible Choice canned tuna products.

Hy-Vee Select Solid Light Skipjack Tuna is caught using the pole and line catch method. This traditional type of tuna fishing is highly selective, catching one fish at a time and producing very little bycatch.

Hy-Vee Select Solid White Albacore Tuna is caught using pole and troll gear, considered to be among the most selective and ocean-friendly methods available for catching tuna. Pole-and-troll-caught fishing also targets younger tuna that have lower levels of mercury than older fish caught on longlines. Because of its environmental and health benefits, albacore from pole and troll fisheries is rated as a Super Green source of seafood by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program.

Our decision to develop these items is part of Hy-Vee’s commitment to healthy oceans, and we are pleased to offer a Responsible Choice for one of the most-consumed seafood products – canned tuna.

Source: FishWatch – The Top Ten List

One-Year Anniversary of Responsible Choice Labeling

There is a growing concern among consumers about the safety, nutritional value and environmental friendliness of the food they purchase.

Responsible Choice Label In order to address those concerns at our Hy-Vee seafood counters, one year ago we began labeling seafood products that meet our strict environmental standards with the blue and green Responsible Choice label. The labeling program was designed and implemented in order to spread awareness of the importance of responsibly sourced seafood and to inform our customers about our leadership in protecting marine resources and ensuring future seafood supplies.

The Responsible Choice label identifies seafood products that come from well-managed sources that minimize the environmental impacts of harvesting or farming. Specifically, these products are rated either Green (Best Choice) or Yellow (Good Alternative) by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, or are certified to an equivalent environmental standard [for example, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification].

Throughout the past year, we have been steadily adding labels to seafood items that have been transitioned to responsible sources, increasing the number of items our customers can feel good about purchasing. For example, you may have noticed that more and more shrimp items display the Responsible Choice label. That’s because we have been hard at work behind the scenes collaborating with our nonprofit partner FishWise to encourage more of our farmed shrimp suppliers to become certified to the rigorous Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Best Aquaculture Practices standard.

As a large retailer, Hy-Vee has an important role to play in marine conservation. Through our buying power and marketing of responsibly sourced seafood, we are creating positive change. You can read more details about the Responsible Choice label and our conservation initiatives on our recently updated Responsible Choice Seafood website.

Alaska Crab Experts Bring Excitement to Des Moines-Area and Kansas City-Area Stores

Kansas City- and Des Moines-area customers had a chance to receive meal tips and learn about Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice seafood from the professionals December 17-19, 2014. Four Alaska crab industry experts — including Jim Stone, who appeared on the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch” show — toured local Hy-Vee stores and shared stories with customers.


Alaska Crab Experts

Hy-Vee hosted Alaska crab experts Jim Stone, Jake Jacobsen, Mark Gleason and Mark R. Jones. During the events, customers heard the fishermen’s stories and how they advocate for the responsible sourcing of seafood.

“I wanted to come to Hy-Vee because I’ve been watching what Hy-Vee has been doing. We’ve been really impressed with how much crab you’ve been selling and with your efforts toward sustainable seafood. And in Alaska, that’s what we’re all about,” Stone said. “The employees of Hy-Vee seem to care so much about the sustainability and about their jobs here, period. The quality of the crab displays is unbelievable.”

Hy-Vee’s chefs and seafood teams also shared techniques for seafood preparation and created enthusiasm in the stores.

“I was excited just to have them in our area and pick their brains because they’re full of knowledge,” said Tim Jones, seafood manager at Waukee Hy-Vee. “Their product is fantastic. Our regular customers made it a point to come over and talk to these gentlemen. It was a great thing for all of us.”

At Olathe (Kansas) Hy-Vee No. 1, an employee in a crab suit greeted customers, creating excitement as they arrived at the store. A large frozen case was transformed into “Hy-Vee Harbor Dockside” and featured selections of crab product as well as crab-related kitchen tools, seasonings and sauces.

Jim Stone's The Retriever

The Liberty, Missouri, store put together a large case display that recreated the “Retriever,” Stone’s boat featured in the “Deadliest Catch” episodes. Stone signed the boat while in the store and later posted a message of thanks to the Liberty store on its Facebook page.

“Jim Stone was extremely touched that the Liberty store took the time and effort to use his boat as the theme for the crab promotion,” said Nancy Pagel, Kansas City-area marketing director. “In addition to an impressive crab display in their seafood case, one of the store’s chefs also sampled various crab recipes, including crab Rangoon pizza.”

Hy-Vee is committed to selling high-quality seafood that not only is safe for consumption, but that also is harvested or raised in a manner that provides for its long-term viability while minimizing damage to the environment and other sea life.

Crab Display - Blue Springs

Stores visited:

  • Ankeny (Iowa) No. 2
  • Blue Springs (Missouri)
  • Kansas City (Missouri) No. 3
  • Liberty (Missouri)
  • Olathe (Kansas) No. 1
  • Waukee (Iowa)
  • West Des Moines (Iowa) No. 3

Biographies of the Alaska Crab Industry Experts:

    • Jim Stone began fishing Bering Sea crab in 1978. He became a crab boat captain in 1987 and started buying in as a crab boat owner that same year. Stone now owns three fishing boats. He is active in and on the boards of several Alaska fishing trade organizations, former and founding president of Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers and current president of the Alaska Scallop Association. He appeared on the first season of the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch.”

 

    • Mark Gleason began fishing in Alaska in 1995 and continued to fish from Alaska to Southern California until 2008. Gleason holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees focused primarily on fisheries and ocean policy. He worked in the U.S. Senate as a staffer on the Commerce Committee handling all ocean-related legislation, then as the government affairs representative for a Seattle-based fishing company. For the last three years, Gleason has been the executive director of the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, a trade association that represents about 70 percent of the harvesters fishing for crab in the Bering Sea.

 

    • Jake Jacobsen has worked in Alaska and West Coast fisheries since 1968 and has operated many vessels. He was the engineer on a Bering Sea crab boat at age 18 and captain at age 26. Jacobsen was executive director of the Alaska Marketing Association from 1994 to 2005, representing crab harvesters in price negotiations with processors. 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.

 

  • Mark R. Jones is the retail marketing representative for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI). He partners with retailers and distributors across the United States to merchandise and promote Alaska seafood products and the execution of tie-in opportunities for the Alaska seafood industry, such as co-op or themed promotions.