Inside Costco’s sustainable seafood program

Published on
April 18, 2011

Although Costco Wholesale has been quietly working on a sustainable seafood initiative for the past four years, many aspects of the global retailer’s program are close to fruition. By the end of this year, Costco’s shrimp, tilapia and farmed salmon suppliers will likely be following new sustainability standards.

The Issaquah, Wash.-based chain of 582 stores has developed an aggressive sustainability approach for all of its seafood selections. According to its updated policy, released in February, Costco’s overall aim is to “continually supply sustainable seafood products from either wild fisheries or farmed aquaculture sources that can be managed in ways that meet current needs, without compromising availability of scarce resources for future generations.”

That updated policy includes eliminating 12 seafood species that the retailer has determined to be “at great risk.” The retailer had already eliminated seven species from its offerings: Atlantic cod, Atlantic halibut, Chilean sea bass, orange roughy, shark, swordfish and bluefin tuna.

In February, Costco added monkfish, redfish, Greenland halibut, grouper and all rays and skates to the list.

Costco has replaced them with additional SKUs of top-selling items. For example, in Asia, bluefin tuna is popular but tilapia has “taken on some great traction,” says Jeff Lyons, senior VP of fresh foods. “Let’s expand on those things that the consumer tells us they want. By giving them more room in the case, we will probably sell more and make up for lost sales,” says Lyons.

Click here to read the rest of the story on Costco’s sustainable seafood purchasing program, which was written by SeafoodSource and SeaFood Business Contributing Editor Christine Blank and appeared in the magazine’s April issue.

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