Seafood2030: The Issues Shaping the Future of Seafood
As a new decade dawns, seafood seems poised to have its moment.
The category has all the right stuff for it to become the preferred protein of the future – it’s supported by nutrition and food systems research, consumer preferences, and global trends in health, technology, product delivery, and more.
One of the healthiest proteins to consume, seafood is also sustainable to produce, and it’s got backing from a growing field of research surrounding “blue food systems,” which highlights the category’s importance to the future of the planet and its ever-expanding bevy of consumers.
The message is clear across many channels: Seafood sustainability offers a way forward, for people and the earth. As such, SeafoodSource, official media for Seafood Expo events, is launching a new program, Seafood2030, aimed at investigating and addressing the issues, challenges, and successes impacting seafood’s sustainable future.
The seafood industry is making significant investments to address environmental and social impacts through certification, fishery improvement projects, supply-chain commitments, and pre-competitive collaborations. These investments have provided significant return to seafood companies, the seafood industry, and the brand “seafood” globally. At the same time, investments in better management by governments and international bodies have had very clear and definable environmental, social and economic returns. Leveraging the work done by industry and aligning government management with industry efforts is a clear opportunity to advance sustainability in seafood.
In 2018, while addressing the Seafood Summit in Barcelona, Lucas Simons, author of Changing the Food Game, highlighted the likelihood that companies in seafood will soon be developing a new, more collaborative relationship with regulators – one where companies are actually asking for more regulation. As unlikely as this likelihood sounded just a few years ago, the dynamic is playing itself out in the cocoa sector right now. Mars Wrigley, Mondelez, Barry Callebaut, Nestle and Hershey have all pushed for greater regulation around child labor, human rights abuses, and environmental degradation. The companies, believing their brand and customer relationship could be jeopardized, are working on legislation in importing countries including the U.S. and E.U..
A similar dynamic is developing in seafood providing an opportunity to thoughtfully design how governments and industry engage around sustainability challenges. We are already seeing efforts to align efforts and address challenges in 4 areas: 1) barriers to certification, 2) codifying best practices in FIPs, 3) traceability and transparency, 4) addressing social issues and reducing risk in supply chains.
SeafoodSource and Seafood2030 will track these four issues over the next 2 years, looking at how industry and government efforts are aligning to efficiently tackle systemic challenges in seafood production and supply chains.
Over the last 15 years industry, governments and civil society have developed a robust set of production, supply-chain, and marketplace tools to advance sustainability in the global seafood sector. Seafood has also seen the development of collective business strategies that are advancing solutions in seafood. The Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative, Seapact, Seabos, Sustainable Seafood Coalition, Global Tuna Alliance, Target75, International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, The Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability, and the Seafood Task Force are just some of the collaborative efforts seafood companies have developed to address pressing sustainability issues in their supply chains. These pre-competitive, collaborative business strategies have been an essential element in other industries’ successful efforts to address sustainability challenges.
Seafood2030 will look at best practices from other industries around these strategies, how they are driving improvements in seafood supply chains, and how seafood companies can use these strategies to transform the industry to better meet future demand.
Seafood is one of the healthiest proteins to consume and one of the most sustainable proteins to produce. There is a growing field of research around “blue food systems” highlighting the importance of seafood to future sustainable food systems and the importance of sustainability to the future of seafood markets. This research includes the EAT-Lancet Report, The High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy and ongoing research at Stanford University’s Center for Ocean Solutions, The University of New England’s Ocean Food Systems Program, and The University of Washington’s Sustainable Fisheries Program.
Seafood is an ideal protein for future global food production and consumption. It is an efficient protein to produce, especially when compared to terrestrial animal protein. It has an excellent nutritional profile including many nutrients and minerals difficult to find in other foods. Seafood has the greatest production potential of any major protein. It is a protein that is accessible and important to some of the poorest regions in the world. And in terms of climate impacts, seafood can be a better option than even plant-based proteins.
Because of these factors, sustainable seafood is no longer just an opportunity to preserve of ocean resources. Sustainable seafood is a way to deliver a nutritionally efficient protein to global markets and a way to ensure long-term assured supply of a critically important protein source for many of the most food insecure populations globally. Sustainable seafood is also a way to drive positive social and human rights change for seafood dependent communities while addressing those issues that can negatively impact the brand “seafood” in the global marketplace. And all of this means, sustainability can be a way for seafood to align itself with future market demands, differentiate itself from other proteins, and capture future market share.
Unfortunately, seafood still has some real-world challenges that make it difficult for seafood to tout its otherwise great sustainability profile. Seafood is at a crossroads – can it address its real-world sustainability challenges and capture a greater share of the protein market based on seafood’s health benefits for people and sustainability benefits for the planet.
Seafood2030 will look at the industry’s vision for becoming the healthy sustainable protein of the future and the regional strategic priorities necessary to execute that vision.