Thai Union subsidiary becomes top US importer of Fair Trade-certified shrimp
Chicken of the Sea Frozen Foods has become the top U.S. importer of Fair Trade-certified shrimp, following the signing of an exculsivity agreement with two of its global shrimp suppliers, Thai Union Frozen and Avanti Frozen Foods.
“This marks not only the first Fair Trade seafood or shrimp certification in India, but also the first certification of two suppliers simultaneously from different geographic regions,” COSFF, a subsidiary of Thai Union Group, said in a press release.
COSFF is the largest importer of frozen shrimp in the U.S., bringing in around 10 million pounds of frozen shrimp monthly, COSFF Senior Procurement Director Henry DelaLlana told SeafoodSource.
“With shrimp as the most-consumed seafood in the country, this certification provides U.S. consumers with the volume of Fair Trade-certified options they are starting to demand,” he said.
COSFF has realized the “same challenges in frozen seafood as everyone else in the industry, we believe things will start to stabilize next year and the consumer demand for more sustainably and responsibly sourced items will continue to grow,” DelaLlana said.
“In the meantime, we’re still investing in sustainability and leading the industry so we can provide our customers with the offerings they need to build their businesses," DelaLlana said. "This initiative to provide Fair Trade-certified shrimp does just that."
In an industry survey Thai Union North America conducted earlier this year, nearly three-quarters of food executives and buyers saw an increase in demand for sustainably-caught and -raised products, Thai Union North America CEO Bryan Rosenberg said.
“Fair Trade certification gives us the opportunity to provide them with what they want in a clear, recognizable way,” he said.
Thai Union's pursuit of Fair Trade certification for more of its shrimp products is an extension of the Thai Union global sustainability initiative, SeaChange. Through the program, all of the supplier’s aquaculture farms supplying its house brands’ products must meet either Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch recommendation ratings of "good alternative" or "Best choice" or carry a certification benchmarked by GSSI, such as Best Aquaculture Practices or Aquaculture Stewardship Council certification, Thai Union North America Director of Sustainability Blake Stok told SeafoodSource.
Fair Trade Founder and CEO Paul Rice said he was excited about the partnership with Thai Union and Chicken of the Sea.
“This initiative bolsters the efforts of conventional seafood partners getting involved in improving global environmental and human rights protections. Thai Union’s commitment to sustainability and the Fair Trade shrimp initiative helps elevate customer confidence in their leadership in this space and ability to meet consumer demand for seafood they can feel good about," Rice said. "As the first global initiative of its kind, this is a step towards greater equity throughout the seafood supply chain."
Photo courtesy of Chicken of the Sea Frozen Foods