Hissho Sushi cuts out eel, mackerel as part of sustainability push
Hissho Sushi, one of the largest distributors of sushi to U.S. retailers and foodservice outlets, recently stepped up its sustainable seafood sourcing policies, including cutting out three species for which it could not find sustainable sources.
The supplier, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.A., with a customer portfolio including Walmart, Safeway, Target, and Sodexo, said with the changes it can now claim 100 percent of the seafood used in its products comes from responsible sources.
“Whether it’s wild-caught or sustainably farmed, from Asia or South America, Canada or Indonesia, all of Hissho’s sushi is transparently certified sustainable by an independent third party and traceable to producers and vendors that comply with strict standards for food safety and quality,” the company said in a press release.
“Our retail partners' customers are responsible consumers. Through feedback, we’ve learned that it's important to our customers to understand where their food comes from and to protect the environment,” Hissho Sushi CEO Dan Beem told SeafoodSource. “Responsibly sourced seafood is a top of mind issue for both our retail partners and customers.”
To achieve its goal, Hissho Sushi removed several menu items from its product offerings, such as baby octopus, eel, and mackerel. The decision was a difficult one – especially regarding eel, because it is “a key protein in one of our most popular sushi rolls,” Beem said.
Eels are frequently smuggled internationally, especially in Europe, where the European Union has said populations are at critically low levels and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has listed the species.
“The temporary cost of eliminating these items was outweighed by the value of living up to the standard we set for ourselves,” Beem said. “In eliminating these offerings, we have seen our chefs and customers trade to other responsibly sourced offerings.”
Instead of eel, the company is selling more yellowtail, tuna, and salmon, and in place of octopus salad, squid salad has become a popular item, according to Beem.
While he would like to eventually add back the traditional sushi offerings, Beem said, the company “will only do so when we can find a sustainable, transparent, responsible source.”
Hissho Sushi, which sells 80,000 pounds of seafood weekly and more than 2,000 tons annually, is primarily a retail supplier, with clients including Sprouts Farmers Market, Meijer, and Giant Food Stores, among others. However, around 15 percent of its business is in foodservice outlets in airports, hospitals, university campuses, and other locations, according to Beem.
The company “only partners with best-in-class suppliers who adhere to its strict standards for food safety and quality,” Hissho said. A third party must certify all vendor products to ensure the seafood used by the company is traceable to farms or fisheries.
"Responsible sourcing generates positive, long-term impact for our consumers, our industry, and the environment,” Beem said. ”While we've taken dedicated steps over the last few years to get here, I'm proud of our employees, vendors, and franchisees for helping strengthen our resolve to reach our 2023 sustainability goal. It's a standard that aligns with our corporate identity to inspire all to be great and do well, and as an industry leader, it's simply our responsibility.”
To achieve its responsible sourcing goals …
Photo courtesy of Hissho Sushi