Small Seafood, Big Impact

Behind every seafood product we offer is a dedicated and skilled worker. Whether on a fishing boat, at an aquaculture farm, or in a processing facility, their hard work enables us to provide the most responsible seafood to our customers.

At Hy-Vee, we believe that we have an important role to play in safeguarding both the health of our oceans and the well-being of workers in our seafood supply chains. That’s why we set high standards through our Seafood Procurement Policy which helps ensure that the suppliers we partner with share our commitment to sourcing environmentally sustainable seafood and using socially responsible practices.

On a recent trip to Thailand, our non-profit partner FishWise learned more about the ways one of our shrimp suppliers is investing in worker well-being and sustainability.

Seafresh can be found tucked away in a lush, tropical paradise bordering the picturesque Gulf of Thailand. Their operation is significant, employing more than 2,500 people at the farm and the processing facility, many of whom come from the neighboring countries of Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia. To provide the best possible working environment, Seafresh has committed to globally recognized best practices in the responsible recruitment of workers – a crucial factor in preventing human trafficking and forced labor. They’ve installed grievance systems so that all workers, regardless of job title, are able to report issues directly to management, as well as created worker welfare committees and an employee care team, which engage workers in the problem solving process with management. Seafresh also partners with a local human rights non-profit to educate workers on their rights, train them on how to use the grievance mechanism tools, and conduct regular interviews to monitor workplace satisfaction.

“It is important that our employees come to work each day feeling that this is a safe and fair place to work, where they are valued for more than just the amount of shrimp produced. We want them to feel empowered here and that this is a place where dedication pays off,” said Dominique Gautier, Director of Sustainability at Seafresh Group.

In addition to understanding the importance of protecting and empowering workers, Seafresh also understands the necessity of protecting and maintaining the environments our seafood relies on. Which is why every shrimp Seafresh exports to the U.S. meet Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy, and is either Aquaculture Stewardship Council or Best Aquaculture Practices certified. Additionally, they have set aside land on-site for a worker-led community garden and are partnering with the local government to restore more than 38 hectares of mangrove forest.

“Seafresh is dedicated to sustainable and socially responsible practices, which we value and seek in our suppliers,” said Jason Pride, vice president of meat and seafood operations at Hy-Vee.

 

 

Last Great Salmon Of The Season

Rising out of the Copper Glacier and untouched wilderness of southcentral Alaska, the Copper River is one of the last untouched watersheds in the world. The Copper River is the birthplace of three wild Alaskan salmon species. These salmon live as adults in the Gulf of Alaska and the Pacific Ocean eating small crustaceans and zooplankton. In late May, the Alaska Salmon season begins with the opening of the Sockeye and King runs at the Copper River. The season comes to an end in September with Coho Salmon. Every year Coho return to the Copper River to make the arduous 300-mile migration up the turbulent waters in order to spawn.  Because the Copper River is so long and steep (gains an average elevation of 12 feet per mile), these fish must pack on sufficient fat reserves to fuel their epic journey–resulting in salmon that is rich in heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids and flavorful oils. The fish’s distinct regional DNA and lifecycle yield the world’s finest salmon.

Wild Copper River Coho salmon are harvested by a small fleet of independent fishermen on one and two-man boats called bowpickers. This artisan craft has been handed down for generations. All Copper River salmon are caught by drift gillnets which extend 150 fathoms from the bow of the boat and hang vertically in the water.

Copper River Coho salmon are handled with extreme care on their journey from net to plate. From the moment they are individually hand-harvested out of the net by fishermen, they are bled. Bleeding the fish helps maintain the pure taste wild Alaskan salmon is known for. Immediately after the fish are bled they are chilled in fish holds. The most popular method of chilling is known as “slush icing” which is a mixture of flaked ice and sea water that allows the fish to float so as to reduce bruising. These fleet-wide standards ensure consistent quality throughout the season.

Coho Salmon have a mild flavor and delicate texture offer that is appealing to any palate. These large fish, sometimes called Silvers, are the last to return to the Copper and have become a fall favorite that pairs well when baked with seasonal root vegetables and mushrooms.

Quality & Freshness Are Top of Mind

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.

Hy-Vee’s Due Diligence Plan: The Road to Transparent Seafood Supply Chains

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.

Pure. Fresh. Wild.

Prince William Sound, located in the North Pacific Ocean, is like no other place in the world. Surrounded by spectacular glaciers and mountains, and shielded from the open ocean by barrier islands, this unspoiled sound on Alaska’s south-central coast is home to a vast variety of wildlife. Salmon thrive in these nutrient rich waters. To preserve the sound’s rich biodiversity, the fishery upholds the highest standards of quality and sustainability, treating each fish with the utmost care.

The fisherman are committed to preserving the rich, natural legacy of Prince William Sound, handling every fish with care and employing artisan-harvesting practices honed over generations. They are independent fishermen who set out on small one and two man boats to catch salmon using time tested gill-nets. Each salmon is handled minimally, delivered quickly, and inspected individually to guarantee excellence.

Prince William Sound Alaskan salmon’s rich flavor, dense texture, and vibrant color comes from the world’s richest waters that they thrive in. High in omega-3 fatty acids, wild Alaskan salmon is known for its incredible health benefits and delicious taste. Best of all, Prince William Sound Sockeye salmon are harvested sustainably and processed in small batches, so you know you are doing good while getting the best.

Your choice matters. When you purchase Prince William Sound sockeye salmon, you are making a good choice for your family and the planet. Sustainability is not a recent trend in Alaska. In 1956 the framers of the Alaska Constitution recognized the importance of protecting Alaska’s abundant natural resources. Article 8 of the Constitution states that “fish…be utilized, developed, and maintained on the sustained yield principle.” This dedication to sustainable management has resulted in an ever-replenishing supply of wild salmon for generations to come. This is why all Alaska Sockeye Salmon is proudly labeled with Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice logo.

From Pristine Waters to Making Mouths Water

Nestled in the scenic Snake River Canyon of Buhl, Idaho, is one of largest state-of-the-art trout farms in the United States. Clear Springs Foods Rainbow Trout are raised in concrete raceways fed by natural flowing spring water. This fuels an optimal environment to deliver a consistent supply of a sustainable superfood.

Clear Springs Foods’ values and vision towards sustainability and the environment truly show in the quality of the trout they deliver each week. The company is employee-owned and the leading producer of quality rainbow trout. Hy-Vee is proud to be a longtime partner with Clear Springs Foods and to feature their rainbow trout in our fresh seafood cases. Due to their responsible farming practices and dedication to sustainability, we proudly label Clear Spring Trout with our Hy-Vee Responsible Choice brand.

Clear Springs Rainbow Trout is an excellent source of lean protein that contains both DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids. One 4-ounce serving of rainbow trout will provide the recommended 250 mg per day of omega-3s.

 

 

How to grill rainbow trout on a cedar plank:

Responsible Choice Wild Alaska Pollock

Wild-caught Alaskan Pollock hail from the icy waters of Alaska, and its lean, snowy-white meat, delicate texture and mild flavor make it an extremely versatile and healthy seafood choice.

It’s high in protein and a great source of omega-3s – which both benefit health. From source to plate, Responsible Choice Wild Alaska Pollock is one of the most abundant and sustainable species on the planet.

Participating Hy-Vee stores will be sampling Wild Alaskan Pollock Trident Cuts this week: Friday, May 3 from 3-7 p.m. and Saturday May 4 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.