Hy-Vee announced plans to offer Fair Trade Certified™ fresh and frozen scallops in all 244 of its stores, making it the first Midwest retailer to do so. The world’s first domestically-sourced Fair Trade seafood will begin hitting Hy-Vee shelves this month. Hy-Vee plans to convert all of its scallop offerings to Fair Trade as additional supply becomes available.
Caught in the cold waters off the coast of New England, the scallops are world-renowned for their texture, color and flavor, and offer shoppers a unique opportunity to support American fishing communities and Fair Trade practices in a single purchase.
Hy-Vee is partnering with Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit organization and the leading certifier of Fair Trade products in North America, to expand its Fair Trade seafood offerings. The Fair Trade Certified™ seal recognizes best-in-class seafood companies for their commitment to sourcing ethical seafood. As part of Hy-Vee’s partnership with Fair Trade USA, it is working to build more resilient livelihoods in fishing communities, improved working and living conditions, increased supply and demand for responsibly sourced seafood, and enhanced environmental stewardship and ecosystem protection.
“Fair Trade is all about empowering the people behind our favorite products,” said Julie Kuchepatov, director of seafood at Fair Trade USA. “Thanks to Hy-Vee’s scallop offerings, Hy-Vee customers can extend these benefits to U.S. fishermen every time they shop.”
Fair Trade USA’s seafood program is the first of its kind to address both social and environmental challenges in the seafood sector. Standards for marine resources ensure that fisheries are managed legally and responsibly, preventing further overfishing. At the same time, social and human rights standards prohibit forced labor and empower fishermen with better working conditions, improved terms of trade and additional income to invest in their businesses and communities.
Hy-Vee is a partner of Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit organization and the leading certifier of Fair Trade products in North America. Recently, Hy-Vee successfully transitioned 100 percent of its service case tuna to Fair Trade Certified™ in all Hy-Vee stores. The Fair Trade Certified seal recognizes best-in-class seafood companies for their commitment to sourcing ethical seafood. As part of Hy-Vee’s partnership with Fair Trade USA, it’s working to build more resilient livelihoods in fishing communities, improved working and living conditions, increased supply and demand for responsibly sourced seafood, and enhanced environmental stewardship and ecosystem protection.
Hy-Vee is transitioning 100% of its private-label fresh and frozen tuna to Fair Trade Certified™. To help celebrate this monumental commitment, we asked Ashley Apel, Seafood Program Senior Manager at Fair Trade USA, to share her thoughts on the importance of responsibly sourced seafood.
What is Fair Trade?
Fair Trade is all about taking care of people and our planet. When you purchase products with the Fair Trade Certified™ logo, you’re not only getting a high-quality product, you’re supporting a system in which farmers, workers and fishermen are fairly compensated, fragile ecosystems are protected, and communities are empowered to build sustainable businesses. It’s a win-win.
There are two important mechanisms that bring Fair Trade to life. The first is the Fair Trade Standard. To earn certification, each fishery must meet a set of rigorous, independently audited criteria that work to protect fundamental human rights of fishermen, enable transparent supply chains and protect the environment. The second important thing to remember is the Community Development Premium. For every pound of tuna sold, fishermen earn an additional amount of money that is earmarked for critical community projects, as identified by the fishermen themselves. This allows fishing communities to invest in the causes that matter the most to them, like education and health care.
What products does Fair Trade USA certify?
Fair Trade USA certifies more than 30 different categories, from tea, coconut and spices to grain, sugar, produce and even apparel and home goods. You can now find Fair Trade Certified™ products in nearly every aisle of the grocery store.
Why does Fair Trade matter so much in seafood?
Recent investigations have exposed a number of environmental and social abuses in the seafood industry. Roughly 30% of the world’s fisheries are overfished, according to FAO. If unchecked, many varieties of seafood we’ve come to know and love may go extinct. Human trafficking and forced labor are also major issues in parts of the industry. An increasing number of reports show that individuals, particularly in Southeast Asia, are lured onto fishing vessels with promises of steady jobs and higher pay, only to find themselves working around the clock in dangerous conditions, often without pay. Some have even lost their lives.
Fair Trade USA’s seafood program is really the first of its kind to address both social and environmental challenges in the seafood sector. Standards for marine resources ensure that fisheries are managed legally and responsibly, preventing further overfishing. At the same time, social and human rights standards prohibit forced labor and empower fishermen with better working conditions, improved terms of trade, and add additional income to invest in their businesses and communities.
Fair Trade Community Development Premiums can also help foster collaboration among previously isolated groups of fisherman. Premiums encourage fishermen to work together to identify and execute projects like health clinics or schoolhouses. This cultivates a sense of community that in turn makes fishermen less vulnerable to exploitation by outside parties.
The tuna Hy-Vee buys comes from small villages in Indonesia. Fishermen and community members have used Fair Trade Premiums for safety improvements at fishing docks, education scholarships, uniforms, and school supplies for local children, planting trees, turtle conservation projects, renovations to village mosques, community waste systems and funds to support grieving or ill families.
What does Fair Trade aim to do in fishing communities?
The goal of the Fair Trade seafood program is to build more resilient livelihoods in fishing communities. It’s about improved working conditions and wages for fishermen, so they can better care for themselves and their families. It’s also about helping fishermen gain greater access to capital in the form of Community Development Premiums, as investments made with this extra income can improve community welfare.
Finally, Fair Trade focuses on environmental stewardship in fishing communities. Our NGO partners and field staff on the ground work with fishermen to improve their fishing practices and preserve marine ecosystems, ensuring that fishing remains a viable profession for generations to come.
What do you want shoppers to know when they see tuna with the Fair Trade Certified™ label?
Every dollar we spend is a vote for the kind of world we want to live in. When you purchase Fair Trade Certified™ tuna, you’re voting for sustainable livelihoods, thriving fishing communities, and healthy marine populations. You’re voting for safe working conditions, equal rights for women, and prohibitions of both slavery and child labor. Most people want to make a positive difference in the world, and with Fair Trade it’s easy. Fair Trade Certified™ tuna empowers shoppers to turn the tides for fishermen, one purchase at a time.
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.
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.
According to the report, “Hy-Vee’s remarkable entrance can be credited to the seafood team’s internal drive and proactive approach to seafood sustainability, coupled with corporate-level endorsement and confidence in its category staff.”
“We were surprised at how well Hy-Vee performed, by essentially rocketing to fifth place, which is a particularly impressive showing for a new entrant to the evaluations,” said James Mitchell, Greenpeace senior seafood campaigner.
Thank you to the Hy-Vee team who worked on this initiative, as well as our customers who support these efforts through purchasing responsible choice items. We could not have done this without each of you, and we look forward to continually improving our offerings in the future!
It is Hy-Vee’s intent to sell high-quality seafood that not only is safe for consumption, but also is harvested or raised in a manner that provides for its long-term viability (sustainability) while minimizing damage to the environment and other sea life.