Hy-Vee’s Meteoric Rise to No. 5 on Greenpeace Sustainability Survey: ‘This is the New Beginning; This is our Social Responsibility’

At Hy-Vee, we’ve just received some important validation in our efforts to become the industry leader in offering customers seafood only from responsibly managed fisheries:

In the Carting Away the Oceans: 2014 Rankings of Seafood Sustainability in U.S. Supermarkets report issued by Greenpeace USA, Hy-Vee ranked fifth among the country’s top 26 retailers for sustainability efforts.

We were ranked in four key areas: policy, initiatives, labeling and transparency, and Red List inventory.

That’s a huge accomplishment that got the attention of James Mitchell, Greenpeace’s senior seafood campaigner: “We were surprised at how well Hy-Vee performed, by essentially rocketing to fifth place, which is a particularly impressive showing for a new entrant to the evaluations,” he said.

FishWise, Hy-Vee’s nonprofit partner in sustainability has been critical in helping us achieve a high score on Greenpeace’s survey. FishWise has very high standards and has been awesome to work with. Working with FishWise has encouraged us to look at issues scientifically and to be mindful of the environmental and social impacts of our practices. Sometimes NGOs can get a bad rap as anti-business, but this isn’t the case with FishWise.

They’ve helped us learn.

Hy-Vee’s CEO, Randy Edeker, also has been a driver in our success. He has basically circled the wagons, challenged us to ask critical questions about every aspect of our operations, and empowered us to make changes to become more sustainable. As a result, our procurement, distribution and operations divisions locked arms and said, in effect:

“This is the new beginning; this is our social responsibility.”

We’re extremely pleased and honored with this recognition. It represents both a commitment from our stores and Hy-Vee customers, who have sent a clear message they want seafood that is responsibly harvested and minimizes damage to the environment. Through our new efforts, we are providing our customers high quality seafood in accordance with the most stringent environmental standards in the food industry.

We wanted to score high on the Greenpeace survey, and hoped that we would. No. 5 is a great position for our first entry in the seafood survey, but we’re not satisfied. We want to be No. 1, whether that’s on the Greenpeace survey or any other measure of sustainability.

Read the full report: Carting Away the Oceans: 2014 Rankings of Seafood Sustainability in U.S. Supermarkets

Hy-Vee is Working Behind the Scenes on Marine Conservation Programs That Make Every Day Earth Day

Authored by Kathleen Mullen-Ley & Nate Stewart

How Hy-Vee’s Responsible Seafood Program relates to the larger picture of marine conservation.

Earth Day is Tuesday, April 22, but Hy-Vee is making environmentally responsible choices every day. One of the most visible is the Responsible Choice initiative – Hy-Vee’s pledge to customers to responsibly source all fresh and frozen Hy-Vee brand fish by the end of 2015.

Less visible but no less important are three major marine conservation initiatives.
These are huge efforts that are not necessary to meeting Hy-Vee’s seafood goals, but are important to Hy-Vee in establishing itself as an industry leader in marine conservation issues.

Retailer participation in advocacy issues and reform is becoming increasingly important to customers as public awareness of threats to marine ecosystems grows. Hy-Vee supports the following three initiatives to help protect the oceans.

  1. Ross Sea Pledge
    The Ross Sea in Antarctica is the least altered marine ecosystem on Earth, supporting exceptional abundances of krill, penguins, fishes, and marine mammals, and it offers important scientific research opportunities only available in this unique place. To support the creation of a marine protected area in one of the world’s most isolated and pristine ecosystems, Hy-Vee publicly pledged that it will not procure Antarctic toothfish (also known as Chilean sea bass) from the Ross Sea.
  2. Genetically Engineered Seafood Pledge
    Hy-Vee extended its commitment to not sell genetically engineered (GE) salmon to include all GE seafood. There currently is no GE seafood on the market, but Hy-Vee is taking this proactive step in part because a technology company has petitioned the FDA for approval of an Atlantic salmon that contains genes from several other species that allow it to grow faster.This is a concern not only for the 93 percent of Americans who favor GMO labeling, but also from an environmental standpoint. Because they are modified to grow faster, there are valid concerns that these farm-raised GE salmon could escape and out-compete wild salmon populations, leading to the decline of wild salmon stocks. Anyone who values biological diversity does not want to go in that direction.
  3. Protection for the Bering Sea Canyons
    On Jan. 28, 2014, Hy-Vee sent a letter to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (NPFMC) in support of the establishment of a Fishery Ecosystem Management Plan for the Bering Sea, including protections for the Zhemchung and Pribilof canyons.A protected zone over these canyons is important because these areas have deep sea coral and sponge habitat that provide a very rare nursery for fish. Healthy coral and sponge habitat leads to healthy stocks of many commercially important fish, including Alaska pollock, Pacific cod, and numerous species of rockfish.

All three of these initiatives are ongoing, and Hy-Vee is committed to remaining engaged.

Sustainable Business 101: Why Use Industry Leading Sustainable Seafood Practices?

Right now, certain types of seafood are overfished or harvested in a way that causes undue stress to the environment and other sea life. At Hy-Vee, we believe retailers need to step up and take care of the planet, take care of its ecosystems and leave them better than we found them.

That’s what we’re doing with our Responsible Sourcing Commitment in our Seafood Procurement Policy. Our aim with the new policy is for Hy-Vee to be an unquestioned destination for sustainable seafood and, by the end of 2015, all of our high-quality fresh and Hy-Vee brand frozen seafood will be responsibly sourced.

We don’t want our legacy to be that we didn’t respect the environment. Instead, Hy-Vee wants to be a leader in this arena and inspire other companies. The end goal is for everyone to get there. Hopefully, we can be one of those companies that can guide the entire industry towards sustainability.

This is a journey we’re on with our suppliers. We’re doing this to help them get better. To get there together, we’ve developed our commitment to Responsible Choice seafood procurement with FishWise, a non-profit group that supports sustainability through environmentally responsible business partners.

When consumers see the Responsible Choice label, they can be assured that they are buying seafood that is rated “green” (best choice) or “yellow” (a good alternative) by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program. These ratings are derived from scientific and peer reviewed assessments that analyze the effects the fishery or fish farm has on the environment and other species.

Couple that with Hy-Vee’s commitment to the best and freshest goods, and the Responsible Choice labeling gives our customers complete confidence that what they buy is supporting the health of their families and that of the oceans.

We want customers to know that it’s where we say it’s from, it’s the freshest they can get, that there is integrity behind it, and that it’s our mission to do business in a way that promotes the well-being of our customers, employees, communities and the global environment.