WWF drops scorecard ranking Hong Kong retailer sustainability efforts

A grocery story in Hong Kong.

The Worldwide Wildlife Fund (WWF) has discontinued a scorecard that ranked Hong Kong retailers on their seafood sustainability efforts.

The ranking began as an idea presented in 2014 for a sustainable seafood guide for consumers in Hong Kong. The WWF issued its “Scorecard on Key Areas in Sustainable Seafood Procurement Policy” for the first time in 2016, scoring retailers on how they set sustainable seafood targets, how they avoided sourcing or selling threatened species, how they ensured proper labeling, and how they monitored their seafood for harmful chemical residues. Retailers were also scored on how they monitored seafood supply chains for forced labor risks and how they publicized their seafood sustainability programs.

The most recent WWF scorecard was released in 2021 and placed PARKnSHOP operator AS Watson first, followed by Japanese-owned AEON and City Super. Two other chains, Kai Bo and Dah Chong Hong, shared the bottom rung of the ranking as a result of refusing to share any information regarding their seafood sourcing and sales policies and practices with WWF.

WWF Project Director Jovy Chan headed up the scorecard initiative for the nonprofit but has since moved on to work on illegal wildlife trade issues, according to WWF Hong Kong Oceans Sustainability Assistant Director Loby Hau.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t had a plan for an update on the supermarket scorecard initiative,” Hau told SeafoodSource.

Chan said in 2021 that the ranking had prompted supermarket operators to set yearly targets to introduce more sustainable seafood and introduce sustainability metrics to their seafood purchasing. 

“They are enhancing transparency step by step,” Chan said.

For the near future, Hau said WWF is continuing its seafood sustainability efforts in Hong Kong via other avenues.

“Currently, we are working with the retail sector mainly through the WWF-HK Sustainable Seafood Business Membership Program,” Hau said. “The program aims to promote sustainable seafood practices in the industry by building a close network throughout the chain of custody. By joining our program, members, including retailers, will have access to a range of resources to support the use of sustainable seafood in business operations.”

The program offers guidance to retailers and foodservice companies on sourcing sustainable seafood, including help with completing a WWF Sustainable Seafood Assessment and following responsible sourcing guidelines, providing assistance with how to properly communicate a retailer’s commitment toward sustainability to its customers. Program members are allowed to use the WWF Sustainable Seafood Badge on their menus and promotional materials.

New Bon Marine (HK) Limited, Qwehli Limited, Worldwide Seafood Limited, and Hai Sang Hong Marine Foodstuffs are among the suppliers involved in the campaign. Two hotel chains, Sheraton Hong Kong and Le Méridien Hong Kong, are listed as founding members, as are well-known restaurant groups Café de Coral Holdings and Tam Jai International, the latter of which operates Chinese restaurants.

Other ongoing sustainability initiatives in Hong Kong include Choose Right Today – a website funded by the ADM Capital Foundation that lists retailers offering certified sustainable seafood – and the Hong Kong Sustainable Seafood Coalition (HKSSC) – which launched a seafood risk assessment in 2020. HKSSC also organizes an annual campaign to encourage local high-end restaurants – many of them multinational chains or part of hotel conglomerates – to serve sustainably and responsibly sourced seafood between 6 and 12 June in honor of World Oceans Day.

A 2021 statement from WWF’s Hong Kong office noted that endangered species remained prevalent in the city’s seafood supply chains, including the critically endangered European eel, which was found for sale throughout the city in a 2020 survey conducted by the University of Hong Kong.

Photo courtesy of Sorbis/Shutterstock


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