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    FRESH SEAFOOD TRENDS:<br />Giant Eagle Taps WWF for Sustainable Seafood Sourcing; Shrimp, Tuna Sales Stay Afloat

    Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle has signed on with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to develop a sustainable seafood sourcing strategy for its 225 corporately owned and franchised stores in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland.

    Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle has signed on with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to develop a sustainable seafood sourcing strategy for its 225 corporately owned and franchised stores in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland.

    WWF will help Giant Eagle lead the discussion with the company’s source fisheries to effect a change in practices across the supply chain and encourage these fisheries to achieve Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) sustainability standards in the trade and harvesting of seafood.

    “We are committed to working collaboratively with industry players to promote sustainable seafood to protect the ocean and ensure a continued supply of seafood into the future,” said Bill Fox, managing director of WWF’s fisheries program. “We look forward to working with Giant Eagle as they develop best practices on this important and very complex topic.”

    In other big fish news, Americans continue to favor shrimp and canned tuna over any other seafood, according to the National Fisheries Institute’s (NFI) annual “Top Ten” seafood survey for 2008.

    Recently released numbers from the Washington-based trade group show the amount of shrimp eaten in the United States remained steady, while canned tuna recorded a slight increase. Talapia consumption also retained its clout amid choppy economic seas in the past year after only coming to the surface of the Top Ten seafood list in 2002.

     

    While most of the Top Ten list rankings haven’t changed, overall seafood consumption dipped in 2008 for the third year in a row. Indeed, the fragile economic backdrop during the past 12 months has made it inordinately tough for all competing center-of-the-plate proteins, but seafood has been particularly challenged as a result of bargain-hunting shoppers who often think of it as being a more pricy option than other “bargain” meat case options.

    “Fish and shellfish fall in the rare category of foods Americans should be eating more of, not less,” says Jennifer McGuire, NFI’s registered dietitian. “Thousands of people die every year because they don’t get enough omega-3s, and that’s a statistic that’s easily reversible.”

    It’s unlikely that this will change, however, until the United States is well out of its recession, adds McGuire, at which time increased demand for seafood will likely lead to a new period of healthy gains in both consumption and value. But based on the restaurant industry outlook, that’s likely not going to happen in 2010, she cautions, although prospects seem much more possible by 2011.

    Compiled by H.M. Johnson & Associates, publishers of the Annual Report on the United States Seafood Industry, NFI’s Top Ten Seafood data came from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

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