Hy-Vee Responsible Choice Rainbow Trout, A U.S. Commodity

With global seafood consumption on the rise, it must be a priority for suppliers and retailers alike to be conscious of environmental impact, responsible sourcing and food safety implications of the seafood they produce and sell to consumers. That is why Hy-Vee began the Responsible Choice initiative. Through the program, Hy-Vee has established specific guidelines to offer high-quality seafood that is safe for consumption and harvested in a manner that provides for a sustainable future.

As of this January, 79 percent of Hy-Vee’s fresh and private label frozen seafood met the goal of being responsibly sourced and traceable or in a time-bound improvement process by year-end 2015. Rainbow trout is no exception.

A member of the salmon family, wild trout are anadromous, spending part of their life cycle in freshwater as rainbow trout and part in salt water as steelhead trout. Farmers in the United States began commercially raising rainbow trout during the 1960s.

The most common production system for U.S. farmed rainbow trout is called a “raceway” – where farmers divert water from natural waterways, such as rivers and streams, into a channel containing the trout. The water is then treated before being discharged back into the original waterway. U.S.-farmed trout are then fed using a formulation of relatively low levels of fishmeal and fish oil, reducing the impacts to wild fish populations.

Regulation of rainbow trout farms in the U.S. is considered effective, as best management practices have been shared and utilized on a nation-wide scale. Through a system of checks and balances, trout farmers are able to monitor the health of the trout and its safety for human consumption.

Rainbow trout farmed in the U.S. has been given a Green “Best Choice” rating by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program due to the environmentally friendly production methods used, and the minimal impact to habitats or other wildlife.

Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice rainbow trout is sourced in a region called the Magic Valley in Idaho by Clear Springs Foods, which upholds the high standards established through Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice initiative. Hy-Vee continues to keep our consumers and the environment top of mind to ensure a safe, traceable and responsible selection of seafood is available to our customers.

Author: Kenan Judge

I’m Kenan Judge, and I am the group vice president of meat and seafood operations for Hy-Vee, and have been in the industry for 37 years. I’m also a member of the Sustainable Seafood Committee for the Food Marketing Institute. 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.