Hy-Vee Offers 100 Percent Responsibly Sourced Fresh and Frozen Seafood in All Stores

Hy-Vee announced in August that 100 percent of its national brand frozen seafood is now responsibly sourced in compliance with its Seafood Procurement Policy. Hy-Vee is the first Midwest retailer to guarantee that 100 percent of the fresh and frozen seafood sold in its 244 stores comes from environmentally responsible sources. This builds on Hy-Vee’s announcement in December 2015 that 100 percent of its private label fresh and frozen seafood is responsibly sourced.

Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy was created with guidance from Hy-Vee’s partner FishWise, a nonprofit sustainable seafood consultancy that partnered with the retailer in 2011. The policy defines responsible seafood as coming from sources that are rated Green or Yellow 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. Since the policy’s inception in 2012, Hy-Vee has worked to transition more than
5 million pounds of seafood to environmentally responsible sources.

“At Hy-Vee, we take pride in our dedication to high-quality, environmentally and socially responsible seafood, and we are thrilled to be the first Midwest retailer to make this kind of commitment,” said Brett Bremser, executive vice president of perishables at Hy-Vee. “This achievement fulfills our promise to our customers to do the right thing, and we will keep working hard with our suppliers and partners to maintain this level of excellence moving forward.”

Hy-Vee and FishWise worked with suppliers of non-compliant national brand seafood products to implement sourcing improvement recommendations. In June 2017, the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) and Seafood Watch announced that two-, three-, and four-star Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP)-certified tilapia is at least equivalent to a Seafood Watch Yellow rating, bringing tilapia products previously unrated by Seafood Watch into compliance with Hy-Vee’s policy. The announcement was a result of a lengthy multi-stakeholder effort, in which Hy-Vee and FishWise participated, to strengthen the BAP tilapia standards.

“We are thrilled at Hy-Vee’s latest 100 percent achievement, and deeply appreciative of the hard work by Seafood Watch, GAA and other stakeholders to elevate BAP-certified tilapia to a level that meets Hy-Vee and other retailers’ responsible sourcing policies,” said Kathleen Mullen-Ley, project director at FishWise. “Hy-Vee continues to lead by example in sourcing responsibly, training seafood staff to be sustainability experts and educating customers on the environmental and social benefits of responsible seafood.”

Hy-Vee will continue to work with FishWise to monitor changes in sustainability ratings and certifications of its seafood products to ensure Hy-Vee maintains 100 percent compliance with its policy moving forward. In addition, Hy-Vee and FishWise are also working together to improve the environmental and social responsibility of the company’s shelf-stable tuna products.

Author: Jason Pride

I’m Jason Pride, and I am the Vice President of Meat/Seafood Operations for Hy-Vee, and have been in the industry for 30 years. Part of my job at Hy-Vee is to respond to increased customer demand for sustainably caught seafood, but also help move the industry forward in this area.