Safeway, Whole Foods top Greenpeace report


Steven Hedlund

Published on
May 1, 2012

Greenpeace on Wednesday published the sixth edition of its “Carting Away the Oceans” report grading major U.S. retailers according to their sustainable seafood sourcing policies, with Safeway and Whole Foods receiving glowing reviews.

This time around, 16 out of 20 retailers earned a passing grade, or score of higher than 4 out of a possible 10. That’s one better than in the fifth edition in April 2011, when 15 out of 20 retailers passed. All 20 retailers failed in the inaugural installment of the report in June 2008. The environmental activist organization judged retailers against a variety of factors, including the sale of “red list” species, involvement with conservation initiatives and transparency of supply.

For the second consecutive year, Safeway came out on top, with a grade of 7.1, followed by Whole Foods at No. 2 with a grade of 7, up from No. 4 in 2011. For the first time this year, Safeway and Whole Foods received “green” ratings with scores of 7 or higher.

“Safeway and Whole Foods have transformed themselves into true industry leaders,” said Senior Markets Campaigner Casson Trenor in a press release. “There is certainly still more work to be done, but we celebrate the achievements of these companies and eagerly await similar actions from other retailers posed to embrace sustainability to a greater degree.”

Wegmans came in at No. 3 with a score of 6.6, followed by Harris Teeter at No. 4 with a score of 6.5, Target at No. 5 with a score of 6.4, Aldi at No. 6 with a score of 6, Ahold at No. 7 with a score of 5.9 and Delhaize at No. 8 with a score of 5.5. Harris Teeter, Aldi, and Delhaize showed significant improvement from last year. Rounding out the top 16 were A&P at No. 9, H.E. Butt at No. 10, Price Chopper at No. 11, Walmart at No. 12, Costco at No. 13, Giant Eagle at No. 14, Trader Joe’s at No. 15 and Kroger at No. 16.

Failing to receive a passing grade were Meijer, Supervalu, Publix and Winn-Dixie/BI-LO with scores of 4 or lower. All four retailers failed last year, in addition to Giant Eagle.

Greenpeace says it is helping advance the sustainable seafood movement, but the “Carting Away the Oceans” report has been subject to much industry criticism since its debut in 2008. Critics question the validity of the report as well as motivation behind it.

According to the National Fisheries Institute, the report is simply part of a larger fundraising effort. “Look for Greenpeace to follow up its rankings with solicitations to its members asking them to keep funding this type of work,” NFI spokesman Gavin Gibbons told SeafoodSource.

“There is really nothing new here,” he explained. “Greenpeace rearranges the list a little, pats itself on the back and then asks for donations — lather, rinse and repeat. It happened last year, it’s happening this year, and it will happen next year. When you’re perpetuating a fund-raising campaign, there can never be an end in sight.”

“On the store level, this is Greenpeace’s attempt to dictate policy to retailers,” Gibbons continued. “Greenpeace is not a reasonable or responsible sustainability partner in any way, shape or form. It’s a fundraising behemoth that uses public-relations blackmail to get its way.”

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