The Top 25: Seattle Fish Q&A
Seattle Fish Co. is featured in The Top 25: Sustainability & Conservation list, published by SeafoodSource on 24 September, 2020.
SeafoodSource: What kind of trends have informed Seattle Fish Co.’s latest sustainability/conservation efforts?
Seattle Fish: Sustainability and “going green” has certainly become more popular in recent years, and while we’re glad to see more companies doing business responsibly and taking proactive steps to be more sustainable, Seattle Fish Company has always viewed our efforts as more than just following the latest trend or fad. Responsible sourcing and acting "sustainably" is a commitment and way of doing business that allows our industry to remain viable for future generations.
Certain advancements and shifts have come about recently that have dramatically increased the impact of our sustainability and conservation efforts. The first is real collaboration with respect to leading the change we want to see. NGO, industry professionals, producers, chefs, and even consumers are now engaging around focused improvements and efforts to increase the sustainability of the supply chain. The importance of these partnerships on the rate and quality of change cannot be understated and our efforts have certainly benefited. We are particularly proud to have been able to use our voice to bring disparate organizations together.
Consumer demand has intersected with technology - we’re witnessing increased demand for more transparency, traceability, and peace of mind. The customer is “waking up” and they want more knowledge about what they’re eating. It’s exciting to see the seafood industry implementing things like blockchain, QR codes, and more standardized reporting. Seattle Fish Company has embraced technology to aggregate and report sustainability of purchases for our customers, making available catch data, integrating provenance data with multiple systems, and piloting end-to-end traceability using hardware and software with various producers.
We’ve also taken a stand to advocate for responsible aquaculture as a responsible choice. This sector has been much maligned in the press and in the minds of consumers, however, we understand that this is a sustainable way to produce a protein with a low environmental footprint. Advocating for, and partnering with, responsible aquaculture companies has been a focus for Seattle Fish Company over the last several years, and it’s something we’re excited to continue investing in.
SeafoodSource: What key features serve to set Seattle Fish Co.’s sustainable seafood offerings apart in the market?
Seattle Fish: As an organization, Seattle Fish company has a deep-seated belief in our ability to make a positive impact in our world, in our industry, and within our communities. And, as a seafood company, much of this impact accrues to the product we source, produce, and distribute.
Seattle Fish Company has a number of differentiators that set the company and our products apart in the market:
- Seattle Fish Co. Eco Score Program: A new measure and report that sends an automatic report of our sustainability benchmark.
- Transparency: Work with the customers to know where their products come from, and provide opportunities for our customers to build relationships with the producers.
- We employ a dedicated sustainability coordinator to educate staff and customers, provide sourcing guidance, and to work to actively look to improve the sustainability of the products we sell.
- An employee-led sustainability team that leads and invests in the sustainability of our operations. This includes recycling all packaging (including styrofoam!), composting all waste, reducing water/electricity/waste relative to volume, and deploying solar panels on our facility.
- We commit to providing industry leadership that positions SFC as a thought leader and influencer. Examples include the incoming Chair of the National Fisheries Institute, former head of Sea Pact, several graduates of NFI’s Future Leader Program, and the executive committee of the Colorado Restaurant Association.
- We commit to engage our community through philanthropic efforts. Seattle Fish commits over USD 150,000 (EUR 128,000) each year to partner with our communities around food, nutrition, and hunger.
- Using sustainability to guide our decisions and actions for the long-term health of our planet.
- Drive a focus on customer intimacy (yes, that is really a thing). Derived from Patrick Lencioni’s charge that a company has a defined strategic anchor. For Seattle Fish, that is our belief in a deep partnership with our customers
SeafoodSource: How does sustainability factor into your overall mission and strategy as a business?
Seattle Fish: The company has invested resources in building what we consider to be our North Star – a set of principles that direct our activity, inspire our personnel, and guide our behavior. It is our experience that having solid core values and principles provides a higher purpose and sense of passion.
Seattle Fish Company’s mission is to sustainably feed people, so our business strategy is based on both preservation and conservation.
Our leadership aspiration, to lead the growth of sustainable seafood consumption, serves as both a rallying cry and for what we want to be famous for in the next three to five years years (hint-hint).
Sustainability is one of our five core values – values that we use to hire, fire, and inform all our business decisions. This action to ensure the health of our planet also serves to inspire our employees around a higher purpose, that which is bigger than any one of us. For us, that is sustainability and making sure we have this healthy, environmentally-friendly protein to feed to our kids, and our kids’ kids.
Businesses invest in all types of capital – human, financial, strategic, etcetera. It stands to reason that with seafood as our principal product we must also invest in our natural capital. As a strategic objective, our engagement around sustainability has led to Seattle Fish investing significant resources around forward action.
Without operating in a forward-thinking, sustainable and proactive way, we wouldn’t have a business left to stand on. By taking the time and effort to do things like invest in FIPs (fishery improvement projects) and purchase products from vendor partners who are focused on sustainability efforts, we’re working towards ensuring the cycle of our industry continues. If we weren’t focused on sustainability, our ability to continue to buy and sell seafood becomes virtually nonexistent. By investing in the future of our oceans we are also investing in the future of Seattle Fish Company. Preservation and restoration have a large impact on our bottom line, and on the environment.