Lidl Italy adopts sustainable seafood procurement policy

Published on
April 12, 2017

The Italian arm of the German discount supermarket chain Lidl has adopted a new policy for sourcing more sustainable seafood.

The policy seeks to improve the sustainability score of both the wild-caught seafood and aquaculture products sold in Lidl’s 552 stores in Italy, primarily through buying more products with sustainability certifications, including the Marine Stewardship Council and Aquaculture Stewardship Council ticks, and the Friend of the Sea certification. Currently, 71 percent of the aquaculture products sold by Lidl are ASC-certified, while 36 percent of its wild-caught seafood is MSC-certified.

“Lidl Italy is committed to steadily increase the number of certified references to be able to offer its customers by the end of 2020,” it said in a statement. “Lidl Italy is committed through a new purchasing policy to promoting a more sustainable fishing to protect fish species and marine ecosystems.”

In its policy, Lidl Italy said it would actively seek to eliminate products sourced from IUU fishing, overfished stocks or species at risk of extinction, and from companies that use transshipment at sea. For its aquaculture sourcing, the company said it would source from companies that ensure adequate standards for the welfare of its products, including with regard to the use of chemicals and antibiotics, and from companies that respect human and workers’ rights.

The new policy was applauded by environmental activist group Greenpeace, which nonetheless cautioned against overdependence on eco-certifications as a guarantor for sustainability.

“LIDL Italy’s actions on sustainable seafood procurement and transshipment at sea are significant steps in the right direction. We continue to see consumers around the globe demanding more responsibly-caught seafood products, and retailers are answering the call by adding those products to store shelves,” Greenpeace Italy Oceans Campaigner Giorgia Monti said. ““LIDL Italy must continue to show progress by making a strong commitment against unsustainable fishing methods. It should commit to clear targets for moving to only more sustainable methods like pole and line or purse seines without FADs. LIDL’s policy also relies too heavily on eco-certifications like MSC as a guarantee for sustainability. The recent MSC scandal and outcry from the NGO community highlight the limits of that approach. Supermarkets should make careful choices based on strong internal sustainability criteria and audits without simply trusting an eco-certification.” 

In a press release in response to the move by Lidl Italy, Greenpeace turned its attention to Lidl’s operations in other European countries and on Thai Union, against which it has waged a multi-year campaign.

 “LIDL Italy’s actions on transshipment put direct pressure on major seafood suppliers like Thai Union to act, and should be duplicated in other LIDL markets worldwide. Unfortunately, some LIDL markets have not shown the same ambition. LIDL UK and Spain, who also recently published seafood policies, have failed to take action against transshipment at sea,” Monti said. “There should not be different standards for LIDL customers depending on where they live in Europe. It is time for LIDL as a group to take a strong stand against transshipment at sea and the illegal fishing and human rights abuses often associated with it.”

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