Wegmans pushes sustainable seafood

Published on
April 5, 2009

Wegmans, a 72-store supermarket chain in based Rochester, N.Y., recently added to the list of seafood species it will not sell because the retailer believes they are not sustainable.

In addition, the upscale retailer added a "Seafood Sustainability" section to its Web site with information on the sustainable seafood species it carries.

Wegmans added Atlantic halibut in January to its list of seafood it will not sell, which includes bluefin tuna and all species of shark and marlin.

"We added those with no management programs in place, or we weren't very comfortable with the sourcing we were able to get," says Wegmans spokesperson Jeanne Colleluori.

Wegmans has been working on procuring sustainable seafood for years, relying on a close relationship with its suppliers, which allows it to know how and were seafood is sourced. The retailer does not rely solely on the word of the Marine Stewardship Council and other organizations but also on its own research and sustainability policy, says Colleluori.

The new "Seafood Sustainability" section on its Web site, www.wegmans.com, lists the sustainable species that Wegmans carries and the organization that certifies it as sustainable. For example, Wegmans carries wild Alaska sockeye salmon, certified by the MSC.

The only farmed species on Wegmans' sustainable-seafood list is shrimp from Belize Aquaculture Ltd., raised according to Wegmans' sustainability policy, which Environmental Defense Fund helped create.

"In the past, we had farmed king salmon, but the supplier made the decision that they were no longer going to produce king salmon," says Colleluori.

Meanwhile, Wegmans is working on obtaining sustainable supplies of mahimahi, wild shrimp, spiny lobster tails, swordfish and yellowfin tuna.

It was important that Wegmans add the sustainable seafood information to its Web site, says Colleluori, because, "We have seen an increased interest for sustainable seafood. It is still a minority of our customers who are interested, but they are asking more detailed questions."

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