Seafood Watch Upgrades Louisiana Wild Shrimp from Red “Avoid” to Yellow “Good Alternative”

Last month, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program removed Louisiana shrimp caught with otter trawls from its “Avoid” list. The Seafood Watch program now lists Louisiana shrimp the same as it does nearly all other Gulf of Mexico shrimp caught using otter trawls – as a Yellow, “Good Alternative.”

Seafood Watch had recommended in 2013 that consumers avoid the wild shrimp caught by Louisiana fishers because of the state law banning the enforcement of turtle-excluder devices on all shrimp trawls. Often referred to as TEDs, the devices create an opening in shrimp nets to allow trapped turtles to escape before they drown. There are five species of sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, and all are protected under the Endangered Species Act. They are loggerhead, green, Kemp’s Ridley, hawksbill and leatherback turtles.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed a bill on July 1 repealing a 1987 state law that prohibited Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agents from enforcing federal turtle-excluder device regulations. The Louisiana House approved the bill last month 100-0. This change prompted the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program to upgrade Louisiana shrimp caught with otter trawls as a “Good Alternative.”

You’ll find Wild Gulf peeled and deveined Responsible Choice shrimp and other shrimp varieties in our weekly ads throughout the month of August. Just ask your friendly Hy-Vee Seafood team for more information.

Hy-Vee’s King of Farmed Salmon

Hy-Vee is excited to offer Mt. Cook salmon as a Responsible Choice for our customers.

This item has been four years in the making. Hy-Vee partnered with Mt. Cook/National Fish in 2010. Hy-Vee was in search of a premium farmed salmon that would meet or exceed our Seafood Procurement Policy. Although it took several years to reach this achievement, it has now paid off. In the past year, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch has labeled Mt. Cook Alpine Salmon as a “Best Choice” pick for farmed salmon. With this achievement, we are now proudly able to label our Mt. Cook King Salmon with our Responsible Choice tag. Hy-Vee customers can feel good knowing that the farmed salmon they are purchasing is one the most environmentally responsible farmed salmon operations in the world. And don’t forget the addition benefits of enjoying delicious seafood that is loaded in Omega-3 and protein.

Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice Mt. Cook King Salmon comes from New Zealand. Cradled in the wild landscape of the Southern Alps of New Zealand lies one particular part of the canal with Hy-Vee’s name on it. This canal is part of one of the most unique salmon farms in the world. The salmon are fresh water salmon, raised in the swift, cold currents of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, where the water is not only fresh and highly oxygenated, but it flows constantly, which allows the fish to be healthy and lean. The result is a salmon that is moist and delicate to the pallet. Its flavor is mild compared to other salmon flavor profiles, which allows it to attract more consumers looking to add salmon to their meal plans that otherwise are hesitant. Be sure to talk to your Hy-Vee Seafood Specialist today about our Responsible Choice Mt. Cook salmon.

Making the Responsible Choice: A Collaborative Effort to Eradicate Human Trafficking, Forced Labor in Seafood Supply Chains

Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice initiative is more than a commitment to food safety and protecting the environment, it’s also about responsible sourcing and that includes the safety and well-being of the men and women working throughout the supply chain. In light of the exposure of human trafficking in Southeast Asia and Thailand over the past couple of years and its relation to the seafood industry, Hy-Vee and FishWise urge customers and businesses to support and take interest in how their seafood is being sourced.

The key to responsible sourcing is knowledge. Often times, leading seafood buyers across the globe are indirectly supporting mistreatment of laborers by buying and selling seafood from unregulated markets. One of the biggest issues related to this issue in U.S. seafood procurement is traceability. Without knowledge of where the product came from, companies cannot verify supply chain compliance with labor laws and human rights standards. The issue is further complicated in seafood supply chains when demand for low prices undermines responsible business practices, and a lack of regulations and inadequate oversight open the door for various labor abuses.

Hy-Vee is continuously working to improve transparency in its seafood supply chains by ensuring their products are traceable back to the point of harvest — whether it’s a fishery or farming operation. To this end, Hy-Vee regularly collects information about the chain of custody and sustainability of seafood products from their suppliers, and Hy-Vee’s seafood vendors have been notified of the commitment to responsible sourcing and traceability.

As a customer, there are several ways you can be part of the conversation. First, ask questions when purchasing seafood in a store or at a restaurant. Questions related to where the seafood came from, how they trace their seafood and if the seafood is a responsibly sourced item produced with fair labor standards are a good place to start. This sends the message that traceability is important to you and encourages business owners to be held accountable. From there, you can take action by supporting retailers and restaurants that are committed to responsible sourcing.

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 make informed and sustainable seafood purchasing decisions by utilizing the seafood buying guides on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website at seafoodwatch.org or the Seafood Watch app on your smartphone.

In addition to customer concern, all companies must implement responsible sourcing plans to ensure that human trafficking, forced labor and other human rights violations are not present in their supply chains. U.S. retailers, foodservice providers, distributors and others in the supply chain can use their buying power to lead change in the entire seafood industry.

There are several steps U.S. seafood businesses can take to ensure they are not buying seafood associated with human rights abuses. First and foremost, organizations should ensure products can be traced to origin and names and addresses of all entities that handled the product can be identified. Companies can also support labor audits through all steps in the supply chain, ensure each link in the supply chain makes a documentable pledge to customers to avoid labor abuse, share concerns and stipulate procurement on the supplier’s ability to regulate human trafficking and labor violations, and finally, communicate clearly with customers. This entails providing the origin of fisheries and the actions taken to guarantee products are not connected to human rights abuses, labor violations or environmental damage.

Hy-Vee has taken steps to ensure responsible sourcing through the Responsible Choice initiative. With collaborative efforts, we can all help to eradicate human trafficking and forced labor in today’s global seafood industry.

For more information visit FishWise’s Human Trafficking, Forced Labor Q & A:
http://fishwise.org/index.php/press/blog/286-human-trafficking-forced-labor-and-seafood-q-a

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.

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.

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.

Aquaculture in Central Iowa

Barramundi FarmVeroBlue Farms is working to become North America’s largest land-based, indoor aquaculture company. Through its Iowa’s First Hub located in Webster City, Iowa, VeroBlue Farms is expanding its production of the barramundi fish species through a new urban farm with approximately 7.2 million pounds of production per year.

Barramundi is a freshwater fish species found in tropical and semi-tropical regions ranging from the Persian Gulf to China. It can be found as far south as Australia, and as far north as India. Barramundi scored extremely high on the NuVal scoring system (mid-80s or higher), and was rated as a Green “Best Choice” for sustainability by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.

Barramundi is known for its firm, white and succulent flesh. It has a moist, fine-grained texture and mild flavor. This nutritious fish is low in fat and high in protein. One barramundi fillet provides the same omega-3 content as approximately 17 steaks, making this fish one of the best sources to improve heart health.Barramundi Fish

Iowa’s First Hub is a family-run operation working to provide a fresh, sustainable product from America’s heartland. Using a recirculating system from VeroBlue Farms, referred to as opposing flows technology, the system utilizes air to circulate the water in the culture tank. The system is designed to create two opposing flows of water that create compressed air being introduced on each side of the tank. Check out this YouTube video for a virtual walk-through of the farm. For anyone interested in sustainable aquaculture and seafood, it gives a great perspective of the operation.

At Hy-Vee, we are proud to support one of Iowa’s aquaculture leaders providing farm-to-table seafood. It is exciting that the operation is located in one of our very own Hy-Vee communities, right in the heart of our home state. The fish are grown in an environmentally friendly and sustainable setting which allows us to consistently offer our customers a high-quality and fresh product year-round.

Hy-Vee’s One-Year Anniversary of the 2015 Responsible Sourcing Commitment Announcement

One year ago we were pleased to announce the addition of a Responsible Sourcing Commitment to our comprehensive Seafood Procurement Policy. The policy and commitment were developed in partnership with FishWise, a non-profit organization focused on supporting sustainability through environmentally responsible business practices.

To protect marine resources and ensure future seafood supplies, Hy-Vee committed to sell responsibly sourced fresh and private label frozen seafood that is rated as a Green “Best Choice” or 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 processes by the end of 2015.

Hy-Vee added the Responsible Sourcing Commitment to its Seafood Procurement Policy to underscore our company’s commitment to providing high quality seafood that is safe for consumption and also harvested or raised in a manner that provides for its long-term viability (sustainability) while minimizing damage to the environment and other sea life.

Hy-Vee is steadily working toward the goal established in our policy. In January 2014, 62 percent of the fresh and private label frozen seafood offered at Hy-Vee met the commitment. As of January 2015, 79 percent of our fresh and private label frozen seafood now meets the commitment, which is a 17 percent increase in just one year!

We continue to strengthen our traceability and transparency through the Responsible Choice labeling program. Seafood products bearing the Responsible Choice symbol meet Hy-Vee’s policy and are caught or farmed in a responsible manner. Specifically, these options are Green or Yellow rated as described above, or certified to an environmental standard equivalent to these ratings.

As we approach the 2015 year-end deadline, we will focus on increasing the number of Responsible Choice items available to customers, including farmed salmon and farmed shrimp items.

Hy-Vee is leading major retailers through our conservation initiative efforts. You can read more details on our recently updated Responsible Choice Seafood website. We’re working to continue our progress in the coming year. We are dedicated to achieving our 2015 goal, and will continue to be responsible seafood champions in the years ahead.

Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice Website Updates

In efforts to better inform customers about our progress toward meeting our 2015 Responsible Sourcing Commitment this past year, we have added additional information and resources to the Responsible Choice section of our website.

One highlight: as of September 2014, 69 percent of Hy-Vee’s fresh and private-label frozen seafood met the goal of being responsibly sourced and traceable or involved in a time-bound improvement process for completion by year-end 2015. This is a seven percent improvement from an analysis made in March 2014.

FishWise

We have also included information about the sourcing of our private-label Hy-Vee Select solid light tuna and Hy-Vee Select solid white albacore tuna. Canned tuna is one of the top three most-consumed seafood products in the United States and is in high demand. However, its popularity has also led to the decline of many tuna stocks in the world’s oceans and the use of poor fishing methods. Given these concerns, Hy-Vee recently unveiled these two new canned tuna products offering a Responsible Choice option for a popular product.

To promote healthy oceans and ensure long-term seafood supplies, Hy-Vee is actively encouraging many of its seafood suppliers to participate in fishery improvement project (FIPs). These are an important component of Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy as they provide a direct pathway for Hy-Vee to encourage supplier sustainability. Hy-Vee and its suppliers are involved in improvement projects for the following species: swordfish, wild shrimp, snapper, grouper and blue swimming crab.

We also added information on what customers can do to help save the oceans. Examples include purchasing Hy-Vee seafood with the Responsible Choice label and becoming educated about ocean sustainability research from other sources such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website.

We invite you to visit Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice website to review our progress, changes and additional information.