RFM certification gaining traction in Japan after supermarkets loosen purchasing policies

A Sockeye Salmon bowl product advertising its RFM certification

Two major Japanese supermarket chains – JCCU and Seven & i Group – have expanded the certifications they accept when purchasing seafood products beyond Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) credentials, with both now welcoming any seafood products bearing a certification recognized by the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI).

One certification trying to take advantage of this less restrictive purchasing policy is the Juneau, Alaska, U.S.A.-based Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) credential, which aims to use this change to establish more widespread awareness in Japan thanks to its GSSI recognition.

“One of the greatest benefits of GSSI has been the opportunity for major global retailers and seafood companies to modify their procurement policies to allow for seafood from GSSI-recognized schemes,” Susan Marks, a sustainability and chain of custody advisor for the RFM program, said.

In 2016, RFM became the first seafood sustainability credential to receive GSSI certification, and seven years later, it became the first to achieve re-recognition status under the updated Version 2.0 of GSSI’s Global Benchmark Tool, which it secured in June 2023.

Since then, the program has aimed to extend its customer base by penetrating new markets. To do so, it has instituted several measures and initiatives such as a collaboration the RFM initiated with the Global Seafood Alliance (GSA) in March 2023.

“It has long been the goal of RFM to expand beyond Alaska,” Certified Seafood Collaborative Chairman Mark Fina said in a press release at the time of the collaboration’s announcement. “We believe GSA can assist RFM in realizing marketing opportunities and introducing fisheries to the RFM program.”

Among other countries, Japan has been a priority market of the RFM program for over five years, as the nation consistently ranks highly in terms of global seafood consumption per capita and interest in sustainable food options has swelled in the country.

“The RFM program has been strategically focusing on the Japanese market since 2018, when the Tokyo Olympics created a new interest and awareness around sustainable seafood,” Marks said. “Since then, members of the RFM team have made multiple trips to Japan for speaking engagements, outreach, and business meetings. We’ve had some great media coverage, and the industry has been very receptive to learning more about RFM.”

That work appears to be paying off, with ... 

Photo courtesy of JCCU

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