Trust But Verify: Hy-Vee Deepens Relationships with Suppliers on Sustainable Tuna Commitments

Providing customers with sustainable seafood has long been a priority of Hy-Vee, rooted in a commitment to protect ocean resources. Our Seafood Procurement Policy goes beyond the traditional idea of environmental sustainability, including commitments aimed at improving traceability and social responsibility in seafood supply chains. Most recently, we expanded our policy to include best practices for at-sea transshipment of tuna.

Since adding at-sea transshipment, Hy-Vee has been hard at work putting the policy into practice. First, we expanded our annual vendor survey, from where our seafoods are harvested, to include questions about the occurrence of at-sea transshipment in tuna supply chains. After understanding where transshipment is taking place, Hy-Vee takes a deeper dive into a tuna supply chain to confirm the accuracy of reported seafood data and to ensure compliance with our Seafood Procurement Policy.

To put this verification into practice, Hy-Vee partnered with Chicken of the Sea and sustainability advisor FishWise, to track a canned tuna product from harvest to Hy-Vee’s shelves. To better understand Chicken of the Sea’s efforts and ability to meet our at-sea transshipment policy, we looked at the supply chain documentation available for key topics:

  • Electronic monitoring and observer coverage
  • Legality of at-sea transshipment events via supporting documentation referencing authorization to transship in high seas waters
  • Worker protections, including vessel and crew safety, on vessels associated with transshipment events

Best practices for monitoring at-sea transshipment, and reducing its associated risks, include understanding where it happens, how it is reported, and who observes the event. Chicken of the Sea provided detailed harvest-level information demonstrating that they prioritize purchasing tuna from fishing vessels with legal government registrations and electronic reporting procedures. Catch documentation also shows observer coverage for all transshipment events and include information about when and where the activity was taking place, adding confidence around the legality of the transshipment event.

Thai Union, owner and operator of Chicken of the Sea, provides publicly available information regarding its vessel code of conduct in support of human rights and worker protections. Through this deep dive, Chicken of the Sea shared additional assurance that the company purchased tuna from fishing vessels that adhere to those standards – specifically regarding worker time spent at sea – through records of fishing trip dates.

Hy-Vee has strong relationships with its seafood suppliers grounded in collaboration and trust. Relationships that are made stronger by working together to ensure sustainable, transparent supply chains. Chicken of the Sea’s dedication to support traceable and legal seafood through its numerous tuna policies and commitments made them an ideal supplier to work with. Chicken of the Sea’s ability to meet the best practices laid out in Hy-Vee’s policy demonstrates the progress that’s been made on tuna sustainability and sets a precedent for other tuna suppliers to follow suit.