Whole Foods Vice President of Seafood Elliott Myers dishes on sustainability plan

Whole Foods Vice President of Seafood Elliott Myers

Austin, Texas, U.S.A.-based Whole Foods Market, an Amazon-owned retailer, has long had a commitment to sourcing sustainable seafood. 

Keeping its focus on sustainable initiatives, Whole Foods, which operates more than 530 stores across the U.S., the U.K., and Canada, recently released its annual impact report summing up its efforts to source more sustainable products, lower food waste, and reduce its carbon footprint. The report details how Whole Foods sourced 250 million pounds of Fair Trade-certified ingredients in 2022 and awarded nearly USD 1.7 million (EUR 1.5 million) to local suppliers through its Local Producer Loan Program. It also inducted nine new participants into its Local and Emerging Accelerator Program (LEAP) cohort.

Additionally, Whole Foods kept more than 72 percent of waste produced at stores and facilities out of landfills and maintained recycling programs at nearly 96 percent of stores. It also donated more than 30 million meals to nearly 1,000 unique food rescue and redistribution organizations in 2022. Seafood comprised just under 50,000 pounds of those 30 million meals.

SeafoodSource interviewed Whole Foods Vice President of Seafood Elliott Myers to discuss his company’s certification requirements and plans sustainable seafood sourcing in 2023 and beyond.

SeafoodSource: How would you define Whole Foods’s overarching objective when it comes to seafood sustainability?

Myers: Our goal remains to provide our customers with high-quality seafood while limiting environmental impact as part of the company’s mission to nourish people and the planet. Sustainability is our priority, and our farm-raised and wild-caught seafood standards help ensure the continuing availability of fish and other species for human [consumption] while also leaving enough for the wildlife that depends on it.

SeafoodSource: What progress did the company make in terms of seafood sustainability and traceability in 2022?

Myers: A new initiative from this past year includes having a Whole Foods Market representative join the supervisory board overseeing the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST) to help drive and strengthen traceability within the seafood industry. We also continue to support and advocate on behalf of sustainable fisheries, including collaborating together with organizations across industries to advocate for the protection of wild sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay.

From 2020 to 2021, Whole Foods Market engaged an independent consulting firm to conduct a human rights due diligence pilot project to assess human rights risks in our farmed shrimp supply chain. In 2022, we expanded this project to our fresh and frozen tuna supply chains.

Utilizing the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as a framework, these projects focused on building supplier capacity to monitor human rights risks and implement due diligence in their own supply chain to mitigate these risks. We are proud that 100 percent of our farmed shrimp and fresh and frozen tuna suppliers at the time participated in these projects.

SeafoodSource: What does Whole Foods Market have planned for 2023 to ensure it

Photo courtesy of Whole Foods Market  

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