In 1998, Hy-Vee became one of the first retailers in the Midwest to hire our own U.S. Department of Commerce (USDC) lot inspector to ensure the quality, safety and integrity of the fresh seafood it buys. The USDC inspector is stationed on-site at our Perishable Distributors of Iowa (PDI) distribution facility in Ankeny, Iowa, where he routinely checks incoming shipments of fresh seafood along with some frozen, ensuring that it meets Hy-Vee’s standards. Our purchasing and sustainability policy is the strictest around. Our seafood team at PDI is meticulous in its sourcing and accountability of our suppliers. A big part of our seafood programs success is partnering with suppliers that have the same beliefs as we do.
The USDC Inspection program is a voluntary seafood inspection service to assist in meeting U.S. regulations and generally accepted seafood production best practices governing fishery products for human consumption. This service supports seafood safety and includes sanitation inspection, system and process audits, grading and inspection and product laboratory analyses.
Bryan Sauve has been Hy-Vee’s full-time inspector since 2003. Bryan is on site five days a week to help is maintain high quality standards. In 2017, Sauve received the Silver Sherman award, which recognizes individuals who have performed work above his or her normal requirements, achieved a milestone that contributed significantly or critically toward the attainment of a particular program goal, and demonstrated leadership of significant magnitude.
It’s no secret that Hy-Vee prides itself in providing customers with healthy, responsibly sourced seafood. Since 2012, Hy-Vee has worked tirelessly to build a best in class Responsible Choice Seafood Program and continues to raise the bar with its expectations for transparent, socially responsible seafood supply chains.
Global seafood supply chains are complex and lack adequate transparency, which leads to uncertainty about the journey a fillet of fish takes from a fishing boat to the dinner table. Hy-Vee takes a proactive approach to confronting this uncertainty because, transparent supply chains offer businesses and customers greater assurance that seafood products are accurately labeled, come from legal sources, and are processed under fair labor conditions.
In 2017, Hy-Vee worked with FishWise, a sustainable seafood consultancy, to create a due diligence plan for improving social responsibility and traceability, and to counter illegal fishing practices within Hy-Vee’s seafood supply chains. The due diligence plan includes seven iterative steps aimed at increasing visibility into its seafood supply chains and reducing risks related to illegal and unethical fishing practices.
Each year Hy-Vee tackles new activities within its due diligence plan. Over the past twelve months, Hy-Vee has expanded its Seafood Procurement Policy, undertaken detailed engagement with suppliers to understand tuna supply chains, advocated for better tuna fisheries management and more.
Through its due diligence practices, Hy-Vee is contributing to more transparent seafood supply chains, greater accountability, and a healthier ocean for fish and people. Hy-Vee’s work provides an example of what dedicated businesses can accomplish when choosing to be proactive about assessing and mitigating supply chain risks.
Fair Trade CertifiedTM tuna, scallops, and salmon can all be found at Hy-Vee stores. To help explain what Fair Trade certification means, we asked Julie Kuchepatov, Seafood Program Director 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 certified seafood 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 additional income to invest in their businesses and communities.
Fair Trade Community Development Premiums can also help foster collaboration among previously isolated groups of fishermen. Premiums encourage fishermen to work together to identify and execute projects like improvements to health clinics or community centers. This cultivates a sense of community that in turn makes fishermen less vulnerable to exploitation by outside parties.
The Fair Trade seafood Hy-Vee buys comes from small villages in Indonesia and traditional fishing communities in the United States, specifically Alaska and the East Coast. Fishermen and community members have used Fair Trade Premiums for safety improvements at fishing docks, education scholarships, uniforms, and school supplies for local children, renovations to community centers, and environmental research projects that help protect the long-term health of the fishery.
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 coordinators 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 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™ seafood, 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™ seafood empowers shoppers to turn the tides for fishermen, one purchase at a time.
Hy-Vee acknowledges the importance of these fish and has committed to improving its sourcing to drive positive change in global tuna supply chains. In 2017 Hy-Vee expanded its Seafood Procurement Policy to include shelf-stable tuna and in 2018 announced its achievement to transition 100 percent of its private label shelf-stable tuna products to responsible sources. Now, Hy-Vee is voicing its dedication to supporting a more transparent tuna trade through examining the practice of transshipment at sea.
What is Transshipment at Sea?
Transshipment at sea is broadly defined as the transfer of fish, supplies, or other cargo between ships. When properly regulated and monitored, transshipment lowers operational costs while reducing the amount of time needed for seafood products to reach consumers. However, at-sea transshipment is often conducted on the high seas where monitoring and oversight is minimal, resulting in increased risk of unsustainable or unethical activities such as illegal fishing or labor abuses.
What is Hy-Vee Doing About Transshipment at Sea?
On May 14, 2019, Hy-Vee expanded its Seafood Procurement Policy yet again to include best practices for at-sea transshipment of tuna. The new policy, developed in partnership with FishWise, a nonprofit sustainable seafood consultancy, demonstrates Hy-Vee’s ongoing commitment to provide customers with environmentally sustainable and socially responsible tuna. The policy includes specific components to support increased monitoring and transparency, improve worker protections, combat illegal fishing practices, and encourage oversight by fishery management organizations.
The journey of a tuna fish – from the ocean to your plate – is complex and includes many people and companies along the way. Hy-Vee is dedicated to sourcing tuna from transparent supply chains that support the responsible management of tuna fisheries for generations to come.
In a world where year-round demand for America’s favorite seafood drives global markets, who is working to ensure products are legally harvested? Fishers? Governments? NGOs? Yes, but that’s not the whole story. Businesses buying and selling these products play a critical role in combating illegal fishing and have the buying power to create real change throughout the seafood industry.
Hy-Vee was ranked No. 2 among the nation’s largest supermarket chains for its progressive sustainability efforts in Greenpeace’s 2018 Carting Away the Oceans (CATO) report. That achievement was in part due to the work that Hy-Vee does to support efforts to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and ensure that its products are sourced legally and sustainably. However, Hy-Vee recognizes that it cannot reach this goal alone.
Why Hy-Vee Works With Suppliers to Fight Illegal Fishing
A seafood product’s journey from the water to the supermarket can be complex, involving several businesses along the way. This creates opportunities for illegal practices to potentially occur, but retailers alone cannot address these risks. Therefore, every business involved in bringing seafood to the consumer needs to be dedicated to ensuring that their business and the ones that they work with are committed to using sustainable and legal practices.
This year, Hy-Vee has partnered with two of its seafood suppliers and the nonprofit sustainable seafood consultancy FishWise to ensure that legal fishing best practices are in place for some of its popular seafood products. One of these suppliers, Orca Bay Foods, LLC., sells a variety of seafood products, including mahi-mahi, to Hy-Vee. Orca Bay Foods, LLC. sources this mahi from a fishery improvement project (FIP), and supports the FIP in reaching its goals around improved sustainability and traceability.
Hy-Vee Partners with Orca Bay Foods, LLC. to Create Improvements
Hy-Vee, Orca Bay Foods, LLC., and FishWise worked together to take an in-depth look at this product to ensure that its harvest and journey to Hy-Vee’s shelves were in compliance with fishing and importing laws and regulations. A large part of verifying that a product is legal and sustainable is having the data to know where it comes from. They also worked with Orca Bay Foods, LLC. to ensure that the company has procedures in place that allow it to monitor potential illegal fishing risks within its supply chains, and maintain frequent communication with the companies that it does business with. As a business striving to support traceable and legal seafood, Orca Bay Foods, LLC. was an ideal partner to work with Hy-Vee on this effort.
“We’re incredibly pleased with Orca Bay Foods, LLC.’s collaboration on this project and efforts to strengthen the legal fishing practices for this mahi product,” said Nate Stewart, executive vice president of perishables at Hy-Vee. “Hy-Vee is dedicated to being a leader in sustainability, and we hope to set an example with this effort that other companies will follow.”
FishWise reviewed this product’s documentation from its harvest to Hy-Vee’s stores to ensure that the vessel catching it was permitted to fish, the vessel and its captain had never been cited for illegal fishing, and all import documentation was properly filled in, among many other legal fishing best practices.
Some of these best practices include:
Improving product data collection
Advocating for regional and international regulations to combat illegal fishing in this fishery
Improving communication around legal fishing expectations between Hy-Vee, Orca Bay Foods, LLC., and the companies they do business with
Improving Seafood Sustainability Through Collaboration
While tackling an issue such as illegal fishing can seem overwhelming, every effort counts and progress can be accelerated through collaboration. John Steinmetz, vice president of business development at Orca Bay Foods, LLC., said, “This project gave us valuable insight and provided us with recommendations and actions that will help ensure we can source this product sustainably for years to come.”
“It’s exciting to see a Midwest-based store like Hy-Vee make the effort to take a deep look into the origin of their seafood products,” said Traci Linder, senior project manager at FishWise. “This sends a message to the seafood industry that companies of any size, from the vessel owner to the retailer, can identify areas for improvement and work with its business partners toward achieving their goals. Proactive and collaborative efforts like these have benefits that cascade beyond Hy-Vee and its customers – ultimately helping improve the health of our oceans.”
October is National Seafood Month and we are celebrating all month long! There’s no better time than now to #CelebrateSeafood. In fact, most people feel good about seafood – yet only one in 10 people meet the goal of having seafood two times per week. Here are the top three reasons you should step up your seafood game:
Live longer: Eating fish literally saves lives – eating seafood two to three times per week reduces the risk of death from any health-related cause. Plus, seafood has essential omega-3s.
Seafood is a protein with benefits: It’s among the highest-quality proteins and offers many additional health benefits. It can reduce your risk of heart disease, improve how you feel during pregnancy, help your child develop a healthy brain and eyes, and improve memory and sharpness in older adults.
Seafood is delicious, versatile, budget-friendly and fast: From delicate, mild flounder to flavorful salmon, seafood can please any palate. Fresh, seasonal catches are easy on the wallet as are frozen and canned options. From start to finish, you can get fish or shellfish on the dinner table in 15 minutes or less.
Not sure where to start? This easy one pan fish dish can be used with any white fish, such as snapper, grouper, flounder, or barramundi. Plus, it’s ready in 30 minutes.
One Pan Fish Dish
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
All you need:
1 lb white fish such as snapper, grouper, flounder, barramundi
¼ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium onion, cut into quarters
2 cups broccoli florets
1 lemon, half sliced and half juiced
⅛ cup canola oil
4 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Fresh rosemary sprigs or other herbs, if desired
All you do:
Heat pan with canola oil on medium temperature for about one minute.
Place all vegetables in pan and cook for 5 minutes, uncovered.
Drizzle lemon juice all over and season with salt and pepper.
Place fish on top of vegetables in center and place 2 lemon slices on top of fish.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Cover the pan and cook on medium for 10-12 minutes, depending on thickness of fish.
Finish with a drizzle of olive oil all over and top with rosemary.
Greenpeace recently released its 2018 Carting Away the Oceans (CATO) report, ranking Hy-Vee No. 2 out of the 22 largest supermarket chains in the U.S. for its sustainability efforts. Since 2008, Greenpeace has evaluated and ranked supermarkets in the CATO report based on their efforts to protect both the oceans and seafood industry workers.
Hy-Vee was listed as one of the top two retailers in the report, finishing in the “best” category and taking the lead in the “initiatives and transparency” categories. Hy-Vee was evaluated on the sustainability of its seafood in four key areas: policy, initiatives, labeling and transparency, and inventory. Greenpeace noted Hy-Vee’s “rapid ascent in rankings,” as this is only the third time Hy-Vee has been included in the CATO 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 also congratulated Hy-Vee on its Responsible Choice canned skipjack and albacore tuna products, which are produced exclusively with tuna caught using environmentally friendly methods.
“Hy-Vee has continued to make significant improvements in recent years on sustainable seafood,” said David Pinsky, senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace USA. “From ensuring its own brand canned tuna products are more sustainably sourced to avoiding unsustainable seafood like Chilean sea bass and advocating for industry improvements, Hy-Vee sets a high bar for other retailers to follow.”
Hy-Vee’s decision to discontinue selling Chilean sea bass – due to concerns about overfishing and bycatch of threatened or endangered species – also helped improve its ranking, as it’s one of only three top retailers to do so. Hy-Vee’s stance against genetically modified fish was also highlighted as a notable achievement.
Since the report’s inception, many large retailers including Hy-Vee have developed stringent seafood policies. Many of Hy-Vee’s policies are developed in partnership with FishWise, a nonprofit sustainable seafood consultancy that promotes the health and recovery of ecosystems through environmentally and socially responsible business practices.
“Hy-Vee has always set a high bar for sustainable seafood,” said Kathleen Mullen-Ley, project director at FishWise. “Not only does Hy-Vee prioritize sourcing environmentally responsible seafood, but they are proactively tackling some of the toughest challenges in seafood supply chains.”
Today Hy-Vee, Inc. announces it is launching Fair Trade CertifiedTM Wildfish Salmon in all 245 of its stores this week, making it the first Midwest retailer to do so. The salmon hails from the pristine waters of Bristol Bay, Alaska, and will be available starting this month. Hy-Vee also offers Fair Trade Certified tuna and scallops.
For more than 1,000 years, the people of remote Alaskan fishing communities like Dillingham, Manokotak and Ekuk, have sustainably harvested their catch from the abundance the Nushagak River in Bristol Bay provides. Salmon fishing continues to be a vital part of their livelihoods and culture. Though economic opportunities in the villages are often limited, the associated premium from the sale of Fair Trade Certified salmon has the potential to create significant impact in these communities.
“Hy-Vee continues to work hard to provide our customers with the best-quality seafood that comes from excellent sources,” said Nate Stewart, Hy-Vee’s executive vice president of perishables. “Sourcing Wildfish Salmon on Fair Trade terms gives our customers confidence that the salmon they enjoy from Hy-Vee is sourced responsibly, improving lives and protecting the environment.”
The 2018 season has the largest-ever forecasted return of 20 million Sockeye to the Nushagak along with a strong Coho run that starts in late July and runs into September. Currently 110 fishers from the area will catch all species of wild salmon either by set-net or drift net.
“Fair Trade is all about empowering the people behind our favorite products,” said Julie Kuchepatov, director of seafood at Fair Trade USA. “Hy-Vee’s commitment to increasing its Fair Trade Certified product options shows that Hy-Vee is giving its customers the best available options while benefitting U.S. fishermen and their communities.”
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.
April is Earth Month, which means we should be thinking a little bit more about the world around us. Let’s take a deep dive into seafood sustainability and how you can play your part in supporting your health, by eating #Seafood2xWk, and the health of the environment, by eating sustainable #Seafood2xWk.
What is Sustainable Seafood?
Sustainable seafood means that it has been caught or farmed with minimal impact to the wild population or the environment. To be responsible stewards of the ocean, we need to make sure we are harvesting what we need today but that it will also be available in the future. It’s important to know where seafood comes from – whether from a wild fishery or farm – and it should only be coming from those that are utilizing thoughtful, science-based approaches to their management practices.
What Can You Do?
Try something new to help alleviate the potential of overfishing. Shrimp, salmon and tuna make up more than 50 percent of what we eat in America, but there are hundreds of other species commercially available.
Wild vs. Farmed
Americans would be in better health if we ate more seafood, but the only way to achieve that is through a combination of the wild population and farmed fish (also referred to as aquaculture). Sustainable seafood relies on both types.
There are good wild and farmed sustainable seafood options, and many benefits to farmed fish beyond just providing a healthy meal. Farmed fish can help with the recovery of natural fish populations, improve indigenous food supplies, increase the diversity of available seafood products, and provide a healthier alternative to land-based animal protein.
In the U.S., some of our favorite and most popular seafood options are farmed, such as oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp, catfish, trout, salmon and black sea bass. Farming fish, shellfish and even seaweed helps produce food while restoring habitats, replenishing wild stocks, and rebuilding populations of threatened and endangered species. Wild fish can also be sustainable, as long as they are not overfished.
What Can You Do?
There are many excellent seafood guides available (see here for a list of SNP’s partner organizations). A place to start is NOAA’s FishWatch.gov, where there is good information and resources for consumers on its website to learn about different species – both wild and farmed.
Try this mussels recipe. It’s easy, tasty, affordable and, most importantly, sustainable. Enjoy!
Mussels In Garlic Broth
From: Seafood Nutrition Partnership’s Eating Heart Healthy Nutrition Program
Created By: Chef Kelly Armetta, Hyatt Regency Boston
All you need:
1 tsp olive oil
4 garlic, cloves sliced
2 tbsp onions, white or yellow, chopped
2 pounds mussels, cleaned
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp basil, dried
1/2 tsp thyme, dried
1/4 cup clam juice (optional)
2 14.5-oz canned tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp butter, unsalted
salt & pepper, to taste
All you do:
Heat large pot with olive oil and sliced garlic and onions.
When aroma is released, add mussels.
Add lemon juice, herbs and clam juice (optional). Gently toss.
Add tomatoes. Cover and simmer over medium heat until mussels are steamed open, generally 3 to 6 minutes.
Remove pot from heat. Discard unopened mussels.
To finish mussels, add butter and swirl to make broth thicker. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
Optional: Serve with crusty bread for dipping in broth.