Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice Initiative Praised by Greenpeace; Ranked Among the Best in the US

Greenpeace released its 2015 Carting Away the Oceans (CATO) report on July 14, ranking Hy-Vee at third out of the 25 largest supermarket chains in the U.S. Greenpeace evaluates and ranks supermarkets in the CATO report based on their efforts to protect both the oceans and seafood industry workers since 2008.

Hy-Vee moved up to the top three this year, finishing in the “good” category and scoring above a 7 out of 10 for the first time. Hy-Vee was evaluated on the sustainability of its seafood in four key areas: policy, initiatives, labeling and transparency and Red List inventory. This is only the second year Hy-Vee has been included in the report.

Hy-Vee was praised by Greenpeace for its efforts to address illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing through political advocacy and participation in industry and NGO-led conversations to identify solutions.

Greenpeace congratulated Hy-Vee on its Responsible Choice canned skipjack and albacore tuna products, which are produced exclusively with tuna caught using environmentally friendly methods. You can read more about Hy-Vee’s canned tuna in this Seafoodies post.

Hy-Vee’s decision to discontinue Chilean sea bass – due to concerns about overfishing and bycatch of threatened or endangered species – also helped improve its ranking, as it’s the only of the top retailers to do so. Hy-Vee’s stance against genetically modified fish was also highlighted as a notable achievement.

Greenpeace writes: “After its ‘Carting Away the Oceans‘ debut last year, Hy-Vee doubled down on its strong performance, coming in third place overall and entering the good category for the first time. Hy-Vee means business about sustainable seafood. … Hy-Vee dropped Chilean sea bass, issued a strong public statement against GMO seafood, is on track to hit its 2015 sustainability goals and twice weighed in at key moments to address Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing in the industry by sending letters to Congress.”

Whole Foods ranked first in the report, while Wegmans came in at second. Since the report’s inception, many large retailers including Hy-Vee have developed robust seafood policies. In the CATO Report’s ninth edition, 80 percent of the retailers profiled received at least a passing score of 4 out of 10.

To view the full report, Carting Away the Oceans 9, click here.

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.

Recipe Spotlight: Alaska King Crab Legs with Dipping Sauces

I enjoy being part of a company that features fish and shellfish caught in a sustainable way, so it can be enjoyed by people for generations to come.

That’s the case with our Alaska king crab legs, which can be prepared with a variety of dipping sauces. Crab legs are a good choice for entertaining, but also for everyday eating.

Don’t be intimidated. They’re very easy to prepare. All you need is a nice, big stock pot and some kitchen shears. Just bring 2 to 3 inches of water to a rapid simmer, throw the crab legs in and cover. It’s OK if some of the legs are sticking out of the pot.

When they’re done, tear the crab legs at the joint. Flip them to the smoother side and snip them open with the kitchen shears. Break the crab legs into pieces and open them to retrieve the meat.


Alaska King Crab Legs with Dipping SaucesAlaska King Crab Legs with Dipping Sauces

All you need:

3 to 4 pounds of Alaska king crab legs (snow or Dungeness also work), thawed or frozen

All you do:

1. To prepare the crab, fill a 16- to 20-ounce stock pot with water. Bring to a boil and add crab legs. Reduce the heat; cover and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes for frozen crab or 3 to 4 minutes for thawed crab, until heated through. Drain and serve with the dipping sauces, see recipes below.

Rouille Sauce

All you need:

  • 1/3 cup bottled roasted red peppers
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

All you do:

1. Combine the peppers and garlic in a food processor and process until well minced. Pulse in the remaining ingredients until well combined.

Basil-Mint Pesto Sauce

All you need:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp toasted walnuts
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

All you do:

1. Combine basil, mint, oil, walnuts, garlic and lemon juice in a food processor; puree until smooth. Add Parmesan and pulse until well combined. For a creamier sauce, combine 1/4 cup of the Basil-Mint Pesto sauce with 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise.

Mediterranean Dip

All you need:

  • 1 (6.5 oz) jar artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 1 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 (4 oz) can sliced olives, drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives OR 2 tbsp. sliced green onions

All you do:

1. Blend the artichoke hearts, Parmesan cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and chives in a bowl. Place in ovenproof baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly, if desired.

Butter Sauce

All you need:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted melted butter
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill weed
  • dash white pepper

All you do:

1. Blend ingredients together in a bowl.

The dips may be prepared up to two days in advance. Reheat the butter sauce as needed.

Sustainable Business 101: Why Use Industry Leading Sustainable Seafood Practices?

Right now, certain types of seafood are overfished or harvested in a way that causes undue stress to the environment and other sea life. At Hy-Vee, we believe retailers need to step up and take care of the planet, take care of its ecosystems and leave them better than we found them.

That’s what we’re doing with our Responsible Sourcing Commitment in our Seafood Procurement Policy. Our aim with the new policy is for Hy-Vee to be an unquestioned destination for sustainable seafood and, by the end of 2015, all of our high-quality fresh and Hy-Vee brand frozen seafood will be responsibly sourced.

We don’t want our legacy to be that we didn’t respect the environment. Instead, Hy-Vee wants to be a leader in this arena and inspire other companies. The end goal is for everyone to get there. Hopefully, we can be one of those companies that can guide the entire industry towards sustainability.

This is a journey we’re on with our suppliers. We’re doing this to help them get better. To get there together, we’ve developed our commitment to Responsible Choice seafood procurement with FishWise, a non-profit group that supports sustainability through environmentally responsible business partners.

When consumers see the Responsible Choice label, they can be assured that they are buying seafood that is rated “green” (best choice) or “yellow” (a good alternative) by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program. These ratings are derived from scientific and peer reviewed assessments that analyze the effects the fishery or fish farm has on the environment and other species.

Couple that with Hy-Vee’s commitment to the best and freshest goods, and the Responsible Choice labeling gives our customers complete confidence that what they buy is supporting the health of their families and that of the oceans.

We want customers to know that it’s where we say it’s from, it’s the freshest they can get, that there is integrity behind it, and that it’s our mission to do business in a way that promotes the well-being of our customers, employees, communities and the global environment.

Responsible Sourcing: It’s About Doing the Right Thing

Boat on Alaskan waters

At Hy-Vee, we’ve made a commitment to consumers and to the industry to responsibly source all of our fresh and Hy-Vee brand frozen seafood by the end of 2015. In the long-run, our sourcing standards mean healthier oceans and better seafood.

We think this commitment to sustainable seafood is both a corporate responsibility and a continuation of Hy-Vee’s policy to respond to consumer demand. Our job is to do the right thing. It’s part of our mantra and our brand to do the right thing for the environment and sea life. We think that’s important, and it’s becoming more and more evident that our customers are concerned with where their food comes from, how it’s raised and how it’s caught.

Customers will be able to see our commitment through our Responsible Choice labeling, shelf strips and other signage in the fresh seafood case and on our frozen Hy-Vee brand fish.

When I talk to customers about sourcing sustainable seafood or, as we call it, responsible choice seafood, they usually have three questions:

  1. What does responsible sourcing mean?
    It means purchasing seafood from fisheries and fish farms that minimize damage to the environment and other sea life, so we can ensure it will be around for future generations to enjoy.
  2. Why is Hy-Vee doing this?
    It’s simple. Hy-Vee is committed to doing the right thing. It’s the right thing for the people who work in the seafood industry and it’s the right thing for the environment. It’s a good thing for Hy-Vee, it’s a good thing for the customers and it’s a good thing for the people we do business with.
  3. If it doesn’t have Responsible Choice on the label, is it OK to eat?
    Absolutely. We’re working with our vendors to make positive changes to improve the sustainability of fisheries and farms that do not yet meet our responsible sourcing commitment. However, It’s important to not to confuse this with quality. We’ve always stood for quality and we are always going to have great quality seafood.

This is more about taking care of the environment and protecting the long-term viability of seafood species, and to make sure that happens – at least on our watch.