Whole Foods, Hy-Vee top Greenpeace list of sustainable seafood retailers

Published on
August 16, 2018

Whole Foods Market, Hy-Vee, and ALDI were ranked the top three sustainable seafood retailers by Greenpeace.

In its annual “Carting Away the Oceans” report, the NGO found that United States grocery retailers have “vastly improved” on providing sustainable seafood. Overall, 90 percent of retailers profiled received passing scores.

However, Greenpeace also said that most retailers are failing to take significant action on the growing problem of single-use plastics and warned retailers about buying from seafood suppliers linked to forced labor practices.

“Supermarkets across the country have made significant progress on seafood sustainability in recent years,” Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner David Pinsky said in a press release. “It is time for major retailers to put the same energy into tackling the other issues facing our oceans and seafood workers, such as plastic pollution and labor and human rights abuses in seafood supply chains. It’s not truly sustainable seafood if it is produced by forced labor and then wrapped in throwaway plastic packaging.”

Whole Foods remained the top-ranked retailer this year after it implemented a strong shelf-stable tuna policy and made “marked sourcing improvements.” 

Hy-Vee placed second in the ranking, as it achieved high marks for its advocacy and transparency initiatives. 

ALDI moved into the top three for the first time, buoyed by new policies to address practices like transshipment at sea, which is linked to illegal fishing and human rights abuses. 

Target moved into the fourth position on the list following improvements in policy and advocacy initiatives. However, Greenpeace said the retailer broke a 2010 commitment by re-introducing farmed salmon in its stores.

Meanwhile, Price Chopper, Save Mart, and Wakefern scored the lowest in this year’s report. 

In addition, Trader Joe’s dropped the furthest in Greenpeace’s retailer ranking - seven spots - due to its “lack of initiatives or customer engagement on sustainable seafood,” Greenpeace said. “More than eight years after Trader Joe’s committed to improve on seafood sustainability, the retailer does not have a robust, public sustainable seafood procurement policy.”

Greenpeace is also urging retailers to demand sustainable, ethical seafood from traders like Fong Chun Formosa Fishery Company and Tri Marine, which procure and then supply large amounts of seafood, especially tuna, to the U.S. market. Earlier this year, Greenpeace released Misery at Sea, which documented illegal fishing and human rights abuses linked to Taiwanese fleets and FCF, a supplier to many U.S. supermarkets.

Retailers should also support the creation of legally binding labor agreements to protect workers’ rights in the seafood industry, Greenpeace said. Greenpeace added that none of the retailers profiled have comprehensive policies to reduce and ultimately phase out their reliance on single-use plastics. 

“The equivalent of a garbage truck of plastic enters our oceans every minute, and with plastic production set to double in the next 20 years – largely for packaging – the threats to ocean biodiversity and seafood supply chains are increasing,” the NGO said. “Greenpeace is urging retailers to take responsibility for their contribution to this pollution crisis, as cities nationwide and large foodservice companies are already making commitments to start phasing out single-use plastics.”

Photo courtesy of Greenpeace

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