Talks between Trader Joe's, aquarium progress


Steven Hedlund

Published on
September 13, 2009

 Trader Joe's is still in talks with the Monterey Bay Aquarium about using the Seafood Watch buying guide to improve its sustainable seafood purchasing policy, Ken Peterson, the aquarium's communications director, told SeafoodSource on Friday.

The Monrovia, Calif., retailer reached out to the aquarium in July, about 10 days after Greenpeace-USA launched a campaign against the 324-store supermarket chain, said Peterson.

Greenpeace singled out Trader Joe's after it scored poorly on the third edition of its report ranking U.S. retailers according to their sustainable seafood purchasing policies; the retailer ranked 17th out of 20. Greenpeace followed the report's release in late June by protesting outside several San Francisco-area Trader Joe's stores.

A growing number of Trader Joe's customers were asking about sustainable seafood, though the retailer said it wasn't due to Greenpeace's campaign, said Peterson.

"As we've often mentioned, we listen to our customers," posted Trader Joe's on its Web site in July. "Hearing recent feedback, our goal is to offer seafood options that fit customer needs ranging from food safety and taste to concern over the environment. This is not a new development for us. For example, we stopped selling Chilean sea bass in 2005 because of customer feedback."

Trader Joe's and the aquarium are still working on the details of the partnership, but soon they hope to set a timeline and benchmarks for the retailer so that it can strengthen its sustainable seafood purchasing policy, explained Peterson.

"To me, it's strong testimony that [Trader Joe's] wants to hold its seafood suppliers accountable," said Peterson.

The aquarium launched similar partnerships with the Compass Group in 2006 and with Aramark last year. Both foodservice operators use the Seafood Watch buying guide to direct its seafood-sourcing decisions.

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