Certified, Individually-Selected and Fresh: Hy-Vee offers a Responsible Choice for Lobster

One of our most popular crustaceans, lobster has always been a hot, international commodity. And as trends in the Midwest turn to increased seafood consumption, 15 to 17 pounds per capita per year, at Hy-Vee, we believe it is our responsibility to provide the same quality and traceability for seafood as we do for all other commodities.

To honor this promise, Hy-Vee began our Responsible Choice seafood initiative. From there, steps to ensure traceability and sustainability fell into place for lobster when we began our partnership with Mazzetta Company to procure Tristan rock lobster.

Why Tristan rock lobster over other lobster fisheries? Located 1,500 miles to the southwest of Cape Town, South Africa, Tristan da Cuhna is known as the most isolated inhabited group of island on Earth. Fewer residents and businesses mean less pollution ends up in the ocean around the islands. In addition, the lobster fishery has longstanding credibility in the world of seafood. Established in 1948, the Tristan rock lobster fishery has been a champion for the environment and implemented numerous practices to ensure responsible fishing, quality control and sustainability.

In June 2011, the Tristan lobster fishery attained certification from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) demonstrating the fishery is managed in a way that does not lead to overfishing, maintains the health and productivity of the wider marine ecosystem, and has an effective management system in place.

The entire certification process is complex, public and rigorous, including seven detailed steps. In fact, Tristan rock lobster is one of only eight fisheries in the world certified by MSC for lobster sales and distribution. From an assessment and stakeholder meetings to client and public review, certification is an admirable achievement and helps us rest assured that sustainability and traceability are priorities throughout the entire supply chain – from the catch to your plate.

In addition to the shore-based facilities, the Tristan rock lobster fishery harvests from neighboring islands of Gough, Nightingale and Inaccessible with a factory freezer vessel, utilizing a long line multi-trap method. All systems operate under a traceability system to track MSC certified seafood through processing as whole cooked frozen, whole raw frozen, whole raw frozen sashimi, raw frozen tails or raw frozen heads.

The final product is then transshipped to Cape Town prior to shipment to the USA.

In addition to the MSC approved practices, Tristan rock lobster has a quality taste, reflecting the care and standards utilized throughout the process. Carefully selected, quickly frozen and individually wrapped, Tristan lobster offers the same benefits available in most seafood – high in amino acids, potassium and magnesium, vitamins, calcium, iron and zinc.

Hy-Vee is proud to partner with an upstanding fishery that places the same value on food safety, traceability and environmental consciousness. Through the Responsible Choice seafood initiative, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our transparency and hold not only ourselves, but also our suppliers, accountable for the quality of product we offer.

Author: John Rohrs

I’m John Rohrs, seafood purchasing manager at Perishable Distributors of Iowa, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hy-Vee established in 1982 to provide a central distribution system for perishable products to Iowa stores. In my job, I work with stores to help create more sales and educate employees on seafood. Through Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice initiative I’ve enjoyed meeting and communicating with vendors and creating the friendships that make our partnerships work.

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