NGO claims Canadian grocers failing on sustainable seafood commitments

Published on
June 9, 2022

A new report claims that Canadian grocers, despite making progress on seafood sustainability, are failing to provide shoppers the necessary information on it. 

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based SeaChoice found in its annual Seafood Progress report that most grocers’ seafood labelling fails to provide the necessary information for consumers to make an informed decision. The exceptions are Buy-Low Foods and METRO, it said in a press release.

More than half of grocers' sustainable seafood commitments — aside from Loblaw’s, METRO’s and Federated Cooperatives Limited — fail to cover all seafood in store, the organization said.

The average percentage of seafood sold by volume that is in line with grocers’ commitments plunged 37 percent from 2021 to 2022.

“This decline is the result of Sobeys and Walmart both neglecting to report on the overall percentage of all seafood sold in the past year that was in scope and that met their commitments,” the report said.

SeaChoice Supply Chain Analyst Dana Cleaveley said grocery stores have an important role to play in ensuring customers have access to sustainable seafood. 

“Grocery stores are where most Canadians buy their seafood. Therefore, grocers have a significant responsibility to their customers to ensure all the seafood they sell — not just some — is sourced in an environmentally and socially responsible way,” Cleaveley said.

Consumers want greater transparency from businesses about the seafood they buy, Cleaveley added. The organization’s polls have confirmed that Canadians want more information — such as whether it's farmed or wild, and where it actually came from — on seafood labels, according to Cleaveley.

Despite the criticism, the report indicates that progress has been made. The average scores for the eight grocers tracked increased from 49 percent in 2018 to 71 percent in 2022. 

In addition, METRO and Walmart have taken steps to investigate their supply chains for human rights abuses, Cleaveley told SeafoodSource.

“The rest of the grocers are quite behind in this area. For example, nearly half of the grocers don't even have codes of conduct in place that reflect their commitments to social responsibility and that suppliers are held to, which is common practice,” she said.

In addition, Costco engaged with SeaChoice for the first time since the inception of Seafood Progress in 2018. As a result, its overall score increased by nearly 50 percent.

Photo courtesy of SeaChoice

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