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Hy-Vee Inc. has transitioned 100 percent of its service case tuna to Fair Trade Certified in all 244 of its stores, guaranteeing that all tuna on ice at its seafood counters is caught in a way that supports fishing communities and does not harm the oceans or jeopardize tuna populations.
“Hy-Vee works hard to provide the very best in seafood for our customers,” said Brett Bremser, Hy-Vee’s EVP of perishables. “We put a lot of effort into finding top-quality, fresh seafood and ensuring it is responsibly sourced and available at a fair price.”
Tuna sold in the seafood service case at Hy-Vee stores is caught with hand-held fishing lines, minimizing the odds of accidentally harming other marine life and ensuring the long-term sustainability of tuna and other sea life. While tuna stocks need to be sustained, so do the people who fish for tuna, Hy-Vee said, as many fishermen are financially insecure and vulnerable.
Hy-Vee is partnering in the effort with Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit organization and the leading certifier of Fair Trade products in North America. The Fair Trade Certified seal recognizes best-in-class seafood companies for their commitment to sourcing ethical seafood. As part of Hy-Vee’s partnership with Fair Trade USA, it’s working to build more resilient livelihoods in fishing communities, improved working and living conditions, increased supply and demand for responsibly sourced seafood, and enhanced environmental stewardship and ecosystem protection.
According to Fair Trade USA, Hy-Vee is the only retailer currently putting forth an effort of this magnitude.
“The most powerful part of Fair Trade is that it allows shoppers to cast a vote for healthy oceans, worker empowerment and responsible business with every purchase,” said Jenna Larson, senior communications manager at Fair Trade USA.
The news follows Hy-Vee’s announcement of its expanded Seafood Procurement Policy, which now includes shelf-stable tuna. The policy was developed in partnership with FishWise, a nonprofit sustainable seafood consultancy that promotes the health and recovery of ecosystems through environmentally and socially responsible business practices.
“FishWise applauds Hy-Vee's recent advance in Fair Trade Certified tuna,” said Kathleen Mullen-Ley, project director at FishWise. “This milestone is important in assuring responsibly sourced seafood that also promotes the wellbeing of fishers who rely on healthy fish stocks, and it sets a noteworthy precedent for the industry.”
Fair Trade USA’s seafood program is the first of its kind to address both social and environmental challenges in the seafood sector. Standards for marine resources ensure that fisheries are managed legally and responsibly, preventing further overfishing. At the same time, social and human rights standards prohibit forced labor and empower fishermen with better working conditions, improved terms of trade and additional income to invest in their businesses and communities.
West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee Inc. operates more than 240 retail stores across eight Midwestern states.