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.

Ocean Vacations: Reduce Your Impact

Hy-Vee customers from the Midwest often love to spend vacations by the ocean, relaxing and taking in the sights, smells and sounds. Even while on vacation, there are small steps travelers can take to reduce their impact on the ocean.

Reducing Impacts on Oceans

  1. Trash and Recycling: After spending a day outdoors, make sure to pack all trash before leaving the beach and dispose of it properly. Recycle any materials that you can, such as paper or beverage containers.
  2. Respect the Environment. Don’t touch or feed the ocean animals. Travelers may come across animals on the land and in the sea, but it’s best to leave them alone and simply observe, not interfere. Also, do not damage or remove any plants.
  3. Choose environmentally friendly transport. Perhaps you’ll stay oceanside, but if not, consider walking, biking or at least taking public transportation to get there. Be sure to stay on trails and public footpaths to respect the local environment.
  4. The Seafood Watch App: Download the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s free Seafood Watch app to your phone. Dining out while on vacation is always a highlight. Using the app, you’ll have instant access to find sustainable seafood options at restaurants and stores and more.

For more information, visit the Ocean Conservancy and Surfrider Foundation.

Hy-Vee Launches “How To” Cooking Videos For Seafood And More

Hy-Vee How-To Counter Signs

 

Hy-Vee is excited to announce the launch of a new series of “How To” videos, educating customers on quick and easy meal solutions. These YouTube videos focus on items from Hy-Vee’s full-service meat and seafood departments and can be accessed through a QR code that is placed on corresponding items purchased in the meat and seafood departments.

Stickers like the ones pictured below are placed on items, giving customers an easy way to access delicious recipes. Hy-Vee’s hope is that this will assist customers in new cooking techniques or encourage them to try a new product and prepare it with confidence.

Hy-Vee How-To stickers

Nearly 30 videos have already been launched, with dozens more in production. Many cuts of meat and seafood are featured. For Seafoodies, some video recipes you may enjoy are: Mahi Mahi Tacos, Simple Seasoned Shrimp, Grilled Salmon, Crab with Garlic Butter Sauce, Seared Tuna Steaks with Pineapple-Peach Salsa and Easy Baked Tilapia. The videos average about a minute in length, letting chefs enjoy a quick overview and then get to work. The video pages also have a link to the full recipe.

View the Mahi Mahi Tacos video here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWFiMwxG21w&list=PLSpULMuslSprlZr2shIOZNkOh_zVzxq-2&index=21

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.

Guardian + FishWise Interactive Article

FishwiseFishWise is a nonprofit sustainable seafood consultancy that works with Hy-Vee and other major U.S. retailers to promote the health and recovery of ocean ecosystems through environmentally responsible business practices. We partnered with Hy-Vee in 2011, and since then, we have worked together determined to transform Hy-Vee’s seafood department into a top destination for sustainable seafood.

Recently, FishWise partnered with the Guardian to create an interactive article to raise awareness of seafood sustainability issues and progress, highlight key FishWise business partners as part of the larger sustainable seafood movement, and encourage consumers to choose seafood with a better understanding of sustainability. The article shines a spotlight on Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice labeling program as a model for promoting customer education and awareness of sustainable seafood at the seafood counter.

From the article: “One way that Hy-Vee ensures supplier accountability is by performing traceability audits on high-risk seafood products – tracking shipments from Hy-Vee stores back through the supply chain to the source, like a vessel or a farm, with FishWise’s help.”

Read the entire interactive Guardian piece featuring Hy-Vee, other retailers, restaurants and suppliers here:
http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-seafood/ng-interactive/2016/mar/29/fish-supermarkets-albertsons-suppliers-tuna-fishwise-educate

Hy-Vee’s takeaways from the Seafood Expo North America conference

The 2016 Seafood Expo North America was held March 6-8. Hy-Vee seafood experts made the trip to Boston to experience the second-largest seafood industry trade show in the world.

The Hy-Vee and PDI teams had productive meetings with many of Hy-Vee’s current and potential new seafood suppliers, gathering information and establishing relationships for the future.

There were thousands of suppliers available for conversation, which was an excellent opportunity for Hy-Vee to make connections. The conference featured more than 20 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 breakout sessions was titled, “New Tools for Seafood Businesses to Understand Human Rights Risk and Improve Social Compliance.” Moderated by FishWise, Hy-Vee’s nonprofit partner in sustainable seafood, the session addressed human rights and labor violations – globally and domestically – and the challenges the seafood industry faces. Human trafficking and forced labor in seafood production are increasingly reported despite the development of ethical standards, audits and certifications. Hy-Vee and other attendees heard from a diverse panel of industry and human rights experts working to address social issues in the seafood sector.

The Hy-Vee seafood team enjoyed the time in Boston and had the opportunity to thank our seafood suppliers – in person – for their help with reaching our Responsible Choice commitment. Our team looks forward to working with the new vendors we met and offering new information and potentially new products to our customers.

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

Hy-Vee’s fresh and private label frozen seafood is 100% responsibly sourced

In 2011, Hy-Vee ambitiously committed to sourcing our fresh and frozen seafood from environmentally responsible sources and to improving the traceability of our seafood by the end of 2015. In keeping with our sustainability mission to promote the well-being of our customers, employees, communities and the global environment, we recognized our responsibility to work with others to improve the sustainability of global fisheries and aquaculture.

To better achieve this goal, we partnered with FishWise, an environmental nonprofit that promotes the health and recovery of ocean ecosystems and the people that depend on them through environmentally and socially responsible business practices.

We are proud to announce that as of December 2015, 100% of Hy-Vee’s fresh and private label frozen seafood met the goal of being responsibly sourced. This is a 38% increase from when we publicly announced the responsible sourcing commitment in January 2014.

“When we hold ourselves accountable, we force ourselves to be great,” said Nate Stewart, former vice president of perishables and current senior vice president of Hy-Vee’s northern region. “Our customers are smart, and we have to earn their trust every day. We owe it to them to uphold our standards and provide them with what they deserve, which is safe and sustainable seafood.”

Hy-Vee has transitioned 4.9 million pounds of seafood to environmentally responsible sources since the partnership with FishWise began in 2011. Here are some of the important sourcing transitions we have made over the past five years:

  • Salmon: All of Hy-Vee’s fresh and private label farmed salmon is responsibly sourced and is Seafood Watch Green- or Yellow-rated. We also offer Green-rated wild Alaskan salmon.
  • Shrimp: By engaging in certification strengthening and encouraging shrimp farmers to improve, we were able to source 100% of our fresh and private label frozen farmed shrimp from responsible sources.
  • King Crab: In 2012, Hy-Vee transitioned sourcing to 100% Alaskan king crab and started the highly successful annual Alaskan king crab leg promotion.
  • Yellowfin Tuna: Hy-Vee’s transition to handline fisheries and MSC-certified fisheries for imported yellowfin tuna resulted in 100% responsibly sourcing of Hy-Vee’s fresh and private label tuna.

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. In support of legal and traceable seafood in the United States, we publicly supported the passage of federal legislation that addresses illegal fishing and cracks down on human trafficking. Following the FDA’s recent approval of genetically engineered (GE) salmon, we reaffirmed our stance against GE seafood and promised our customers that GE seafood has no place in our stores. Hy-Vee will continue to strive to deliver high quality, responsibly sourced seafood to our customers. We will continue to participate in the leading conversations that are helping to drive improvements industry-wide. When you purchase Hy-Vee seafood, you are supporting best practices that will help to ensure a healthy supply of seafood for generations to come.