Hy-Vee Celebrating First Seasonal Catch of Responsible Choice Wild Salmon in Stores

Copper River Salmon

Hy-Vee Responsible Choice wild salmon, caught from Alaska’s Copper River, are some of the very first salmon to arrive in stores when the fresh wild season opens in mid-May. This yearly event attracts media attention and draws foodies from around the globe. The celebration kicks off with the first fish arriving in Seattle aboard an Alaska Airlines Boeing jet, a plane that features a huge mural image of salmon along the entire length of the jet.

The consumer demand for this product has grown each year with foodies eagerly waiting for the first salmon to arrive in their local Hy-Vee. The pure, pristine environment of the Copper River helps to create an omega-3 powerhouse. Copper River salmon begin their journey 300 miles downstream at the mouth of the Copper River, then make the long trek up through fast currents and unspoiled glacial-fed waters to reach their spawning grounds. This trek requires the salmon to store extra energy in the form of fat. The one-of-a-kind flavor and texture generates from this fat and makes any seafood lover’s mouth water. It is truly some of the highest prized salmon in the world.

About the River

The Copper River takes its name from the rich copper deposits found along its banks. This massive body of water has 13 major tributaries, is one mile wide and runs at seven miles per hour. The Copper River is the 10th largest river in the United States, and is home to some of finest, well-managed salmon stocks in the world. Alaska’s successful management practices are considered a model of sustainability for the rest of the world. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game monitors fish populations at several points along the Copper River and counts salmon heading up the river to ensure that an adequate number migrate to spawning grounds to reproduce each year. Policies like this have helped Alaska maintain one of the world’s most abundant sources of delicious wild seafood for generations to come. This is why we proudly place our Hy-Vee Responsible Choice label on wild Alaska salmon.

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.

Hy-Vee Introduces Responsible Choice Alaskan Pacific Halibut

With sizes more than 8 feet in length and weights surpassing the 500 pound mark, you can see why the largest of all flatfish is referred to by Alaska fisherman as “Barn Doors” for their massive size. Hy-Vee is pleased to introduce the availability of this popular fish, Alaskan Pacific halibut, to its meat counter.

Pacific halibut is often considered America’s favorite white fish. You can find halibut on restaurant menus and in fresh seafood cases across the country for grilling at home during the summer. Alaskan Pacific halibut is a mild, delicate and sweet-tasting white fish. Uncooked, the meat should be almost translucent — not dull, yellowish or dry. When cooked, the snowy-white meat loses its glossy appearance and flakes at the touch of a fork. As an added bonus, its versatility in the kitchen is almost limitless. The thick, meaty flesh holds up well to a number of cooking methods and sauces, and it’s an ideal item to skewer for a summer BBQ.

Hy-Vee is pleased to label Alaskan Pacific halibut as a Responsible Choice seafood item this year. Today, the only legal fishing method for commercial Pacific halibut fishermen is longline gear, aimed at the typical market size for this year’s catch of 10 to 15 pound halibut, which is much smaller than the 500 pound giants these flatfish can sometimes become. The 2015 season got underway on March 14 and will run until November 7, or until the quota of 29,223,000 pounds is met.

This season, Hy-Vee got its first taste of fresh Pacific halibut the week of season open on March 16. This was possible as all of our fish from Alaska are flown via Fed-Ex® overnight from Alaska to the Des Moines International Airport. After going through our U.S. Department of Commerce Inspection process at Perishable Distributors of Iowa (PDI), Hy-Vee stores have the opportunity to receive fresh halibut that has been out of Alaskan waters for only 48 hours. That is quite a feat, especially in the Midwest.

In general, the Alaska Pacific halibut commercial fisheries, including Hy-Vee’s primary vendor Copper River Seafoods, are selective in the fish they catch because of the size of the hook needed to harvest such a large fish – using a large hook generally reduces bycatch of smaller fish. Fishermen use circle hooks to increase catch rates and to improve the survival of any undersized halibut caught and released during commercial fishing. To reduce bycatch of other ground fish, regulations prohibit commercial Pacific halibut fisheries in specific depths and areas off the West Coast. The United States and Canada coordinate management through a bilateral commission known as the International Pacific Halibut Commission. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries and the North Pacific and Pacific Fishery Management Councils are responsible for allocating allowable catch among users in the U.S. fisheries through the NOAA FishWatch.

Responsible Choice LabelAlthough the Alaska Pacific halibut commercial fishery industry has changed substantially over the years, the science-based management of the fisheries has remained constant, sustaining this industry for nearly 100 years. This is another testament to the Alaskan fisheries being some the best managed sustainable fishery industries in the world. Because of its well-managed fisheries and practices, Hy-Vee is proud to label Alaskan Pacific halibut with our Responsible Choice logo of approval.

Hy-Vee’s Private Label Canned Tuna Among Top Five Responsibly Sourced Brands

Recently, Hy-Vee’s private label canned tuna ranked fifth in Greenpeace USA’s Tuna Shopping Guide, which analyzed 14 widely available canned tuna brands across the United States. Greenpeace scored brands in categories including traceability, fishing methods used, product labeling and consumer education, and support for marine reserves and promoting industry change. Through this scoring process, it found that only 20 percent of the canned tuna sold in the United States comes from sources that engage in responsible and nondestructive fishing practices.

Hy-Vee Select Responsible Choice skipjack and albacore tuna were recognized as ocean-safe products because of their pole-and-line or pole-and-troll fishing methods, which have minimal impact on other species. Greenpeace also noted Hy-Vee’s recent strides with its Seafood Procurement Policy and the availability of information on the company’s responsible seafood efforts.

Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy includes the Responsible Choice labeling initiative, which informs customers about the company’s efforts to provide seafood from environmentally responsible sources. The policy was created to help Hy-Vee sell seafood that is not only safe for consumption, but that is also harvested or raised in a manner providing for its long-term viability while minimizing damage to the environment and other sea life.

Hy-Vee is dedicated to delivering a high-quality seafood selection to Midwest customers. To accomplish this, the company knows it must also play an integral role in keeping our oceans healthy. We congratulate Hy-Vee on this recent recognition and look forward to helping the company continue to improve its responsible seafood efforts.

Hy-Vee Customers Can Support the Responsible Choice Initiative and Help Save the Oceans in Four Simple Ways

Today’s consumers are not only interested in where their food comes from, but also the implications associated with how it was harvested. Through the Responsible Choice initiative, Hy-Vee has established specific guidelines to offer high-quality seafood that is not only safe for consumption but also is harvested in a manner that provides for its long-term viability — all while minimizing damage to the environment and other sea life.

Customers can assist in the effort to help save sea life and provide for a sustainable future in the following ways:

  • Purchase seafood with Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice label. The Responsible Choice label is backed by rigorous science and is Hy-Vee’s guarantee that the seafood you’re buying is not causing harm to the environment. To make responsible seafood recommendations, Hy-Vee draws from a variety of science-based sources such as peer-reviewed research, third-party certifications and color rankings generated by industry-leading non-profit organizations. Hy-Vee consistently works to improve transparency in seafood supply chains by ensuring products are traceable back to the point of harvest. Remember, choosing seafood that is responsibly sourced helps reduce pressure on global fish populations, and in turn ensures long-term viability of the seafood you love to eat.
  • Do your part by doing your own research. In order to protect marine resources and ensure future seafood supplies, Hy-Vee has committed to selling responsibly sourced fresh and frozen seafood that is rated as a Green “Best Choice” or a Yellow “Good Alternative” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, certified to an environmental standard equivalent to these ratings, or sourced from credible, time-bound improvement projects. You can help too by educating yourself on the issue. Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website at seafoodwatch.com or download the Seafood Watch app on your smartphone to learn more about the impacts fishing and aquaculture have on the environment.
  • Ask for more information. Whether you are at a restaurant or grocery store, ask questions. Information is power. Asking a simple question, such as “Where does this fish come from?,” alerts businesses that customers want sustainable seafood and expect businesses which are selling the product to be informed. To take it a step further, you may ask if the seafood is responsibly sourced, and support restaurants and businesses that offer ocean-friendly seafood. Encourage your friends and family to do the same, and buy local when possible.
  • “Reuse, Reduce, Recycle.” Now is the time to put this well-known slogan into action. Plastic pollution negatively affects the ocean, so it’s important to make sure waste is disposed of properly to prevent it from ending up in our waterways. Today, nearly 80 percent of plastic materials in the ocean originate on land — that’s a staggering amount of pollution that affects ocean habitats and entangles sea life. You can help to reduce the amount of plastic pollution by utilizing a reusable water bottle rather than buying single-use water bottles; bringing a reusable bag to the grocery store instead of using plastic bags; participating in a river clean-up to prevent trash from flowing into the ocean; and recycling whenever possible.

Remember, you too can be a leader in ocean preservation by encouraging responsible seafood options, supporting responsible businesses and doing your part to minimize pollution. One person can make a difference, and we encourage all customers to take part in Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice initiative.

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.

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.