Publix revamps seafood labels to call out sustainability

Publix Super Markets, one of the largest grocery chains in the United States, recently revamped labeling that calls out its sustainable fresh and frozen seafood products. The Lakeland, Florida-based operator of around 1,270 stores is also undertaking a reverse audits certification program.

Publix rolled out simple blue “Sustainably Sourced” and green “Responsibly Sourced” seafood labels, which will appear on price tags at the full-service seafood department and on shelf tags in the frozen seafood case. In 2020, the retailer’s frozen GreenWise seafood packages will also be revamped to include the blue and green labels, Guy Pizzuti, seafood category manager for Publix, told SeafoodSource.

With the new labeling, Publix wants its customers to easily identify which products have met Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) and Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) sustainability standards. 

“These standards consider everything from the fishery’s stock to the gear used to any impact on other plant or animal life. For some fisheries that don’t pass sustainable muster, Publix sponsors fishery improvement projects (FIPs) to help them become more sustainable,” Publix said on its website.

“We rolled out the new labeling system to help customers make informed decisions about their purchases,” Pizzuti said. “Our sourcing has changed very little in the past few years … a large portion of our products were already considered sustainable or responsible. The big difference now is that we are calling those out.”

Publix will also be conducting reverse audits on sustainable practices data self-reported by suppliers into SFP’s metric dashboard, which is used to rate fisheries and by Publix to determine which seafood products have earned sustainable and responsible certifications.

“Reverse audits will be done to confirm that the product we are purchasing and claiming as certified is in fact certified. We’re still working with BAP [Global Aquaculture Association’s Best Aquaculture Practices program] to finalize the game plan, but are looking to 2020,” Pizzuti said.

The grocery chain also recently convened more than 90 seafood suppliers and sustainability leaders for Publix’s 2019 Seafood Sustainability Summit. The summit, which included sessions led by SFP and NFI, commemorated the achievement of SFP reaching the halfway mark in its Target 75 goals. Target 75 aims to ensure that 75 percent of the world’s seafood production in key sectors is – at a minimum – either sustainable or making regular, verifiable improvements.

The summit also outlined the ways in which continued pre-competitive collaboration will enable the group to further improve sustainable fishing practices globally in 2020, and detailed the active steps Publix is taking to improve its supply chain transparency.

“At Publix, we’re looking at the bigger picture. We seek to address sustainability beyond ourselves and work with other stakeholders to improve fisheries at a global scale,” Pizzuti said.

In 2017, Publix was recognized as the first U.S. supermarket retailer to participate in the Ocean Disclosure Project, which promotes supply chain transparency.

Since 2009, in collaboration with SFP, Publix has helped nine struggling fisheries become more sustainable by sponsoring fishery improvement projects (FIPs). 

The FIPs include: Gulf of Mexico grouper and snapper – U.S., Indonesia grouper and snapper, Florida pink shrimp, mahi, tuna, and zonal shrimp aquaculture.

“Our hope is that those will work their way through the process toward sustainability,” Pizzuti said. 

Photo courtesy of Publix Super Markets


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