Hy-Vee Defines Six Fields of Sustainability, Upholds Commitment to Responsible Choice Initiative

Today’s consumers are interested in and concerned about their food supply. From nutritional value and quality to sourcing and environmental impact, customers are asking for transparency. Through Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice seafood initiative, the company has taken it upon itself to provide a new level of consumer confidence.

Hy-Vee takes its commitment to responsible seafood seriously, which is why the company requires a thorough assessment before a seafood offering may be deemed a Responsible Choice item. As part of Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy, vendors are required to provide comprehensive information on six fields of sustainability for the shipment to be labeled “Responsible Choice.” These six fields ensure best practices are being met and vendors are accountable for their products. It also ensures products can be traced back to their origin.

The six fields include:

  1. The seafood’s generic, market name. This field lists the generic, market name most commonly used in the store, and the name most customers would recognize. For this example, we will use Alaska pollock. The market name for this seafood is Alaska pollock.
  2. Scientific species name. The species name discloses the seafood’s full scientific name, which is often in Latin or Greek. The Latin name for Alaska pollock is Theragra chalcogramma.
  3. Country of catch or production. This field notes the country in which the product was caught or farmed and ensures the first degree of traceability is met. The Alaska pollock was caught in the United States.
  4. Region of catch or production. The region field describes specifically the ocean, lake or location of the farm in which the product was caught. This also aids in traceability efforts and holds vendors accountable for their catch. Alaska was the region of catch for the Alaska pollock.
  5. Gear type/production method. This field names the method used to catch or farm the product, which ensures seafood vendors are utilizing responsible fishing practices as approved by the Responsible Choice program. This means the seafood was harvested in a way that provides for its long-term viability and also minimizes damage to the environment and other sea life. The gear type for Alaska pollock is midwater trawl.
  6. Sustainability eco-certification (if applicable). The final field requires the vendor to provide the name of the organization(s) from which it obtained certification. Hy-Vee and the seafood industry trust accredited third-party resources to ensure the vendor meets industry standards and follows best practices. An example is a certification or accreditation from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

Based on this information, Hy-Vee and FishWise then determine if the product should receive Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice label, which indicates that the product meets Hy-Vee’s standard for responsibly sourced seafood. Hy-Vee defines “responsibly sourced” as seafood that is Green or Yellow rated by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program or is certified to an environmental standard equivalent to these thorough ratings (e.g. MSC certified).

Ultimately, Hy-Vee’s goal in assessing each vendor according to these six sustainability fields is to ensure each utilizes environmentally-friendly practices, is transparent regarding where the product was caught or raised, and provides a safe, quality product for their customers. Each of these six fields is listed on the product’s master case label and is available to customers upon request.

Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice seafood initiative is more than an idea, it is a promise to customers. Hy-Vee’s commitment is executed through each purchasing decision and reflects the standards set within the Responsible Choice initiative.

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

Responsible Choice New Zealand Farmed Salmon

For the first time, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program has given salmon farmed in freshwater net pens a Green “Best Choice” rating. As a result, Hy-Vee is now featuring this delicious Responsible Choice New Zealand farmed salmon.

In New Zealand, salmon farms do not have the same environmental impacts as salmon farms in other regions of the world, such as British Columbia, Chile, Norway and Scotland. This is due to several factors including differences in chemical use, pollution and risk from escapes.

To date, New Zealand salmon farms have never experienced a disease outbreak and therefore have not required treatment with antibiotics, pesticides or other chemicals commonly used in other major salmon farming regions. In addition, pollution from salmon farms in New Zealand is minimal, partly due to the small scale of the industry. For example, salmon production in Norway is currently 100 times greater than current production in New Zealand.

Although the salmon are not native to New Zealand, they have been successfully established in the region as a result of government hatchery programs that release salmon into the wild to stock recreational fisheries.

Hy-Vee’s Mt. Cook Alpine salmon is farmed in a freshwater lake in the Southern New Zealand Alps. The farm uses no antibiotics, vaccines, growth hormones or any other chemicals. The farm maintains low stocking densities that keep pollution outflow to a minimum. The swiftly flowing water requires the salmon to swim constantly, producing rich flavor and high quality.

Next time you’re standing in front of your local Hy-Vee store’s seafood counter, look for fish labeled Responsible Choice New Zealand farmed salmon.

Aquaculture in Central Iowa

Barramundi FarmVeroBlue Farms is working to become North America’s largest land-based, indoor aquaculture company. Through its Iowa’s First Hub located in Webster City, Iowa, VeroBlue Farms is expanding its production of the barramundi fish species through a new urban farm with approximately 7.2 million pounds of production per year.

Barramundi is a freshwater fish species found in tropical and semi-tropical regions ranging from the Persian Gulf to China. It can be found as far south as Australia, and as far north as India. Barramundi scored extremely high on the NuVal scoring system (mid-80s or higher), and was rated as a Green “Best Choice” for sustainability by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.

Barramundi is known for its firm, white and succulent flesh. It has a moist, fine-grained texture and mild flavor. This nutritious fish is low in fat and high in protein. One barramundi fillet provides the same omega-3 content as approximately 17 steaks, making this fish one of the best sources to improve heart health.Barramundi Fish

Iowa’s First Hub is a family-run operation working to provide a fresh, sustainable product from America’s heartland. Using a recirculating system from VeroBlue Farms, referred to as opposing flows technology, the system utilizes air to circulate the water in the culture tank. The system is designed to create two opposing flows of water that create compressed air being introduced on each side of the tank. Check out this YouTube video for a virtual walk-through of the farm. For anyone interested in sustainable aquaculture and seafood, it gives a great perspective of the operation.

At Hy-Vee, we are proud to support one of Iowa’s aquaculture leaders providing farm-to-table seafood. It is exciting that the operation is located in one of our very own Hy-Vee communities, right in the heart of our home state. The fish are grown in an environmentally friendly and sustainable setting which allows us to consistently offer our customers a high-quality and fresh product year-round.

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.

Responsible Choice Copper River Wild Sockeye Salmon

It’s a new year, and many people are making resolutions committing to healthier lifestyles. At Hy-Vee, we make it easy to find delicious, quality wild salmon. We have a large amount of Copper River sockeye salmon for our frozen supply this year, allowing us to offer it to you all year long. These amazing fish have extremely high fat content, high heart-healthy omega-3 content, a rich flavor and a deep ruby-red color. Copper River sockeye have a higher than average oil content due to the swift, cold waters where they live and thrive.

These fish originate from the world-famous Copper River, known for the best salmon available anywhere. Copper River sockeye salmon is Responsible Choice and a testament to our commitment to responsibly source all fresh and Hy-Vee brand seafood. It can be argued that Alaska’s Copper River sockeye are the finest sockeye salmon in the world.

The Copper River or Ahtna River is a 300-mile river in south-central Alaska in the United States. It is known for its extensive delta ecosystem, as well as for its prolific runs of wild salmon, which are among the most highly prized stocks in the world. It is the 10th largest river in the United States, as ranked by average discharge volume at its mouth.

In Alaska, sustainability of the seafood industry is so important that it’s written into the state Constitution. Not only does Copper River wild sockeye salmon meet Hy-Vee’s high standards for freshness, but it’s also fish you can feel good about eating. With the Responsible Choice label comes the confidence in knowing the fishery or farm uses sustainable catch methods.

Responsible Choice Oysters Will Please Your Holiday Guests

Hy-Vee customers who love oysters can feel confident that they are making a Responsible Choice when buying wild oysters from the fisheries of U.S. Gulf of Mexico states. The Gulf of Mexico is a well-managed area, and because oysters are often eaten raw, the beds are constantly monitored to make sure their oysters are safe to harvest and consume. All Hy-Vee’s shucked oysters are considered a Responsible Choice, so rest assured that you are purchasing a fresh product that was harvested in a manner that is also safe for the ecosystem.

Hy-Vee’s fresh shucked oysters vary in size and weight depending on season and harvest area. Our shucked oysters are sorted into three categories: standard, select and count. Our standard oysters are normal-sized oysters perfect for stews and stuffing. Select oysters are larger than normal and are great for stews and frying. Count oysters are the very largest of the harvest and are ideal for large fried oysters.

Each shipment of shucked oysters is inspected by our onsite U.S. Department of Commerce (USDC) inspector at our warehouse in Ankeny, guaranteeing the highest quality and freshness throughout Hy-Vee’s eight-state region.

If you’re entertaining guests and serving oysters, consider offering beers that complement the oysters’ flavor. Brain Hoppe, a certified cicerone at our Hy-Vee South store in Iowa City, says stouts — Old-World Guinness may be a good one — have a rich caramel quality that accentuates the creamy aspect of seafood, making them the perfect match.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and have fun entertaining!

Adding Responsible Choice Seafood to Your Traditional Christmas Dinner

Responsible Choice seafood is a delicious and easy way to improve your health year-round, and it is a great way to bring a lighter dish to your holiday table.

The American Heart Association recommends consuming fish two times per week with servings of 3.5 ounces or about 3/4 cup of flaked fish. Seafood is naturally high in essential vitamins like A, E, D and C and minerals like zinc, iron, calcium and selenium. Seafood is also low in calories, and cholesterol in shellfish is equal to the amount of cholesterol in lean beef.

Yet traditional holiday dinners often include other main courses such as turkey, ham, roasts or prime rib. For a flavorful and nutritious dinner option, consider adding Responsible Choice seafood to your spread using fatty fish such as wild Alaska salmon, Hy-Vee Select canned pole and troll albacore tuna or U.S.-farmed rainbow trout. Fatty fish tend to be higher in omega-3 fatty acids which have several health benefits that may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, reduce inflammation and assist with brain function. Most seafood has no saturated fat content, which will provide a great option for your guests watching their fat intake.

Don’t know how to add Responsible Choice seafood to your Christmas dinner? Here are a variety of delicious, healthy ideas:

  • Marinate and grill in aluminum foil
  • Use in casseroles instead of beef or chicken
  • Use in sandwiches and salads for a lean protein
  • Pan-fry in a small amount of olive oil with your favorite herbs and seasonings
  • Use in a stir-fry with your favorite vegetables
  • Incorporate into a light pasta dish
  • Use in your favorite soup and stew recipes

Hy-Vee makes it easy for you to make these healthy choices for the holidays. Hy-Vee Responsible Choice seafood comes from the best, top-quality suppliers in the industry. Hy-Vee employs a full-time, in-house U.S. Department of Commerce federal inspector, and the seafood program is U.S. Federal Drug Administration and Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point-approved. Our warehouse has fresh seafood arriving daily by plane or truck and it’s lot-inspected for quality and wholesomeness.

Look for Responsible Choice seafood at your local Hy-Vee today.

Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice Website Updates

In efforts to better inform customers about our progress toward meeting our 2015 Responsible Sourcing Commitment this past year, we have added additional information and resources to the Responsible Choice section of our website.

One highlight: as of September 2014, 69 percent of Hy-Vee’s fresh and private-label frozen seafood met the goal of being responsibly sourced and traceable or involved in a time-bound improvement process for completion by year-end 2015. This is a seven percent improvement from an analysis made in March 2014.

FishWise

We have also included information about the sourcing of our private-label Hy-Vee Select solid light tuna and Hy-Vee Select solid white albacore tuna. Canned tuna is one of the top three most-consumed seafood products in the United States and is in high demand. However, its popularity has also led to the decline of many tuna stocks in the world’s oceans and the use of poor fishing methods. Given these concerns, Hy-Vee recently unveiled these two new canned tuna products offering a Responsible Choice option for a popular product.

To promote healthy oceans and ensure long-term seafood supplies, Hy-Vee is actively encouraging many of its seafood suppliers to participate in fishery improvement project (FIPs). These are an important component of Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy as they provide a direct pathway for Hy-Vee to encourage supplier sustainability. Hy-Vee and its suppliers are involved in improvement projects for the following species: swordfish, wild shrimp, snapper, grouper and blue swimming crab.

We also added information on what customers can do to help save the oceans. Examples include purchasing Hy-Vee seafood with the Responsible Choice label and becoming educated about ocean sustainability research from other sources such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website.

We invite you to visit Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice website to review our progress, changes and additional information.

Responsible Choice Belize Shrimp Stands Out in Your Holiday Recipes

At Hy-Vee, we are determined to promote healthy oceans and ensure the long-term sustainability of the seafood supply, both in the United States and abroad. As a part of this commitment and our Responsible Choice initiative, we are proud to offer Belize shrimp to our customers.

responsible-choice-logoResponsible Choice Belize shrimp are from farms in an area of the world with the ideal conditions for shrimp farming including perfect weather, clean water and farmers who care for the product. These shrimp are truly fresh out of the water. The shrimp’s processing contains no additives or preservatives, including no added water. In addition, the processing facility is only 10 minutes away from the farm, which is much closer than the industry standard of four to 12 hours. The combination of the production and processing standards means that you won’t find anything more natural or fresh than this shrimp.

With the holidays upon us, taste is especially important while entertaining. The shrimp have a unique taste, considered sweet by many customers’ palates. Belize shrimp will cook in half the time as typical shrimp, usually only about one to two minutes, due to their freshly harvested properties. When cooked, they turn a vibrant red color, darker than others you may have seen, which will make your shrimp dishes even more striking. To enjoy some of the best-tasting shrimp in the world, just use Belize shrimp in your favorite holiday shrimp recipes. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!