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.

Respecting the World’s Oceans

Hy-Vee is a partner of Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit organization and the leading certifier of Fair Trade products in North America. Recently, Hy-Vee successfully transitioned 100 percent of its service case tuna to Fair Trade Certified™ in all Hy-Vee stores. 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.

 

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.”

2017 North American Seafood Expo in Boston

The 2017 Seafood Expo North America was held March 19 – 21. Representatives from Hy-Vee, PDI and FishWise, Hy-Vee’s nonprofit sustainable seafood partner, made the trip to Boston to experience the second-largest seafood industry trade show in the world. This year’s show was the largest ever, with more than 1,300 companies ­– representing 53 countries – exhibiting. Companies presented their seafood products, services or processing equipment.

The Hy-Vee, PDI and FishWise teams had productive meetings with many of Hy-Vee’s current and potential new seafood suppliers, gathering information, exchanging updates and discussing plans for the future. The seafood team also met with a number of groups focused on expanding socially-responsible seafood, including Fair Trade USA and the International Pole and Line Foundation.

The conference featured more than 25 educational sessions presented by top seafood industry experts, covering the most important and timely issues relevant to today’s seafood business environment. One of the most notable of these sessions was titled “Navigating Seafood Trade and Legislation in 2017.” Moderated by FishWise, the session provided information to ensure that seafood companies are compliant with trade laws and legislation, specifically the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (H.R. 644) and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA).

The Hy-Vee seafood team enjoyed having the opportunity to thank its seafood suppliers in person for doing their part to ensure continued compliance with Hy-Vee’s lofty Responsible Choice standards. We’re excited to work with the new vendors we met and to offer new information and new products to Hy-Vee’s customers.

To find out more about the show, visit the Seafood Expo website: http://www.seafoodexpo.com/north-america/conference

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.

Hy-Vee Paves Way in Sustainable Seafood with New Shelf-Stable Tuna Policy

Hy-Vee is reinforcing its commitment to responsibly sourced seafood by announcing the expansion of its Seafood Procurement Policy to include shelf-stable tuna. The news comes one year after Hy-Vee met its goal to source 100 percent of its fresh and private label frozen seafood from responsible sources, and three years after Hy-Vee unveiled its Responsible Choice seafood labeling program.

“Shelf-stable tuna is a challenging and complex category, but we are committed to taking positive and meaningful steps to be part of the solution,” said Brett Bremser, executive vice president of perishables at
Hy-Vee. “By establishing a policy for our shelf-stable tuna, we are initiating the next phase of Hy-Vee’s sustainable seafood journey.”

Hy-Vee’s expanded Seafood Procurement Policy states that it is committed to sourcing shelf-stable tuna from fisheries that are (in order of preference): 1) certified by the Marine Stewardship Council with supply chain traceability (Chain of Custody); and/or 2) Green or Yellow rated by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program; and/or engaged in fishery improvement projects making measurable and time-bound progress.
Hy-Vee’s policy relies on these internationally recognized sustainability programs and guidelines because they incorporate criteria and standards that address the biggest issues in tuna sustainability, including overfishing of tuna stocks, bycatch of non-target species, habitat and ecosystem impacts, and management effectiveness.

The Hy-Vee Seafood Procurement Policy also includes language recognizing the importance of traceability to ensure seafood is from legal and verifiable sources, the responsibility to uphold human rights in its seafood supply chains and the need to support and engage in initiatives to drive positive outcomes in fisheries and aquaculture production.

“As we enter the fourth year of our Responsible Choice seafood program, Hy-Vee remains dedicated to doing business in a manner that promotes the well-being of our customers, employees, communities and the global environment,” Bremser said. “We recognize that in order to continue achieving our mission, we need to stay ahead of emerging issues.”

In 2013, due to concerns over the high levels of bycatch in fish aggregating device-associated purse seine fisheries and in longline tuna fisheries, Hy-Vee developed two Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified
Hy-Vee Select canned tuna products. Moving forward, Hy-Vee will work with its suppliers to improve the environmental, traceability and social responsibility of all shelf-stable tuna products it sells.

Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy was developed in partnership with FishWise. We are a nonprofit sustainable seafood consultancy that promotes the health and recovery of ecosystems through environmentally and socially responsible business practices.

FishWise commends Hy-Vee’s willingness to begin identifying and addressing the environmental and social impacts of its shelf-stable tuna supply chains. The expanded Seafood Procurement Policy paves the way for more sustainable tuna options in the aisles of Hy-Vee stores and sets an ambitious example for other companies to follow.

It’s COOL To Be A Fishmonger

In 2005, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) began requiring supermarkets to add Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) to their packaging and signage for fish and shellfish. The intent of the law was to educate consumers on where their fish came from and whether or not it was wild or farmed. When you go to your fishmonger to buy cod, for example, the sign says “wild-caught, product of U.S.A.” The USDA felt that consumers wanted to know and had a right to know where their fish comes from. The law has since been expanded to certain meats and produce.

So what does this really mean for you when you stop into your Hy-Vee seafood department to get tonight’s dinner? As a consumer of seafood, you face a barrage of information regarding what fish to buy and what fish you shouldn’t buy. You may read a report about how a certain country has poor farming conditions or one that uses slave labor to catch seafood. You may tell yourself to avoid those countries and look for the country of origin on the label. But here is the catch: The law requires the supplier to list the country that the fish was last processed in, not the country where the fish was actually caught or farmed.

Why is this important? For example, most wild salmon is caught in Alaska, but some processors send it to China to be processed because it is cheaper to do that. Therefore they are required to put China as the country of origin even though it was caught in the U.S.A.! So the COOL can be misleading if you are looking for information on where that fish really came from. Companies are now providing more information on the label than ever before to try to clear up the confusion. You may see a label that says “salmon caught in Alaska and processed in China.” Keep in mind that Hy-Vee sells only the best seafood that is raised or caught in a responsible manner. This is the core of our Responsible Choice program and why you can shop for fish worry-free at Hy-Vee.

There are several other facets to the COOL program that are worth mentioning. If seafood is altered in any way by cooking or adding seasoning, then there is no COOL requirement for that product. That’s why you will not see any COOL on battered or encrusted seafood. The other part of the COOL law is the method of production. What if you only want farm-raised or wild fish? The label will tell you how it was caught. The label may also tell you how it was farm raised or caught. For example, was it farm-raised in a closed system or in a net pen in the ocean? Was it caught by longline or in a pot? Those specifics are not required by law, but your fishmonger should have that information if you ask, and you will always find it on my signs in my shop.

When you come into your Hy-Vee fishmonger and read the product signage, you will have a better understanding of the information provided. Keep in mind it is always best to ask the fishmonger about specific concerns you may have. We are always the best source of information on where and how your fish was harvested.

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.