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The fourth edition of Greenpeace’s seafood sustainability scorecard, “Carting Away the Oceans,” revealed that for the first time that half of the leading supermarket operators in the United States garnered “passing” scores for the sustainability of their seafood operations.
Yet while more retailers this year obtained higher sustainability marks by the environmental group, officials from the Washington, D.C.-based National Fisheries Institute (NFI) are decrying the report released yesterday as doing more harm than good for both retailers and consumers.
“This is not a constructive campaign designed to help guide retailer’s efforts at seafood sustainability,” said John Connelly, NFI president, adding that this year’s rankings are not only recycled from years’ past, but are also an inaccurate representation of the real strides grocers are making with seafood sustainability efforts. “Responsible retailers are working hard at seafood sustainability, and just because they don’t cave to all of Greenpeace’s demands doesn’t mean they’re not focusing on this issue.”
Describing the report as being a “misleading campaign…based on ideology and hysteria not sound science,” Connelly said many of the fish Greenpeace wants removed from stores are certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council while others are considered to hail from some of the best managed fisheries in the world.
“A sustainability program should be about a sourcing initiative not a public relations initiative,” said Connelly. “Just because a retailer isn’t talking about his or her program everyday in the press doesn’t mean they’re not doing anything,” he said, adding that Greenpeace’s “unreasonable demands would have an immediate and measureable impact on the public health of all Americans. Doctors and dieticians say Americans should eat 39 pounds of seafood a year, or two to three seafood meals per week for maximum health benefit. Currently, Americans only eat 16 pounds. Even with that knowledge in hand, Greenpeace is still demanding stores remove almost half of all seafood from sale,” said Connelly.
As for how Greenpeace’s retailer sustainability rankings played out this year, Target moved from fourth place to No. 1, knocking Wegmans to second place, while Whole Foods kept its third-place ranking from last year. Trader Joe’s, which in 2009 ranked 17th, zoomed up to tenth place following the news last month that it’s actively developing a sustainable seafood operation. Safeway rose from fifth place to fourth, and Costco fell from 10th place to 14th.
Of the 20 biggest U.S. supermarket chains in the United States, several have made no visible effort to boost the sustainability of their seafood operations, according to Washington-based Greenpeace, which cited HEB, Meijer, Costco, Supervalu, Publix and Winn-Dixie as examples.
“A significant divide is developing among the major retailers,” noted the nonprofit organization’s senior markets campaigner, Casson Trenor. “It’s now clear that Wegmans, Target and Whole Foods are making substantive progress reflecting their commitment, while others such as HEB and Costco remain committed to selling endangered species and destroying marine ecosystems.”
The full list is as follows:
3. Whole Foods
4. Safeway (Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Pavilions, Randall’s, Vons)
5. Ahold USA (Stop & Shop, Giant)
6. Harris Teeter
7. A&P (The Food Emporium, Pathmark, Super Fresh, Waldbaum’s)
8. Delhaize America (Bloom, Food Lion, Hannaford Bros., Sweetbay)
10. Trader Joe’s
11. Price Chopper
13. Kroger (Baker’s, City Market, Dillon’s, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers, Ralphs, Smith’s, Quality Food Center)
15. Supervalu (Acme, Albertsons, Bristol Farms, Jewel-Osco, Save-A-Lot, Shaw’s)
16. Giant Eagle
18. Winn Dixie
20. H.E. Butt Grocery Co. (HEB, Central Market)