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Hy-Vee Inc. has expanded its Seafood Procurement Policy to include shelf-stable tuna, one year after the retailer met its goal to source 100 percent of its fresh and private label frozen seafood from responsible sources, and three years after unveiling its Responsible Choice seafood-labeling program.
“Shelf-stable tuna is a challenging and complex category, but we are committed to taking positive and meaningful steps to be part of the solution,” said Brett Bremser, EVP of perishables at Hy-Vee. “By establishing a policy for our shelf-stable tuna, we are initiating the next phase of Hy-Vee’s sustainable seafood journey.”
According to Hy-Vee’s expanded Seafood Procurement Policy, the grocer is committed to sourcing shelf-stable tuna from fisheries that are, in order of preference, certified by the Marine Stewardship Council with supply chain traceability, and/or Green or Yellow rated by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, and/or engaged in fishery improvement projects making measurable and time-bound progress.
Hy-Vee’s policy relies on these internationally recognized sustainability programs and guidelines because they incorporate criteria and standards that address the biggest issues in tuna sustainability, including overfishing of tuna stocks, bycatch of nontarget species, habitat and ecosystem impacts, and management effectiveness.
The policy also includes language recognizing the importance of traceability to ensure seafood is from legal and verifiable sources, the responsibility to uphold human rights in seafood supply chains, and the need to support and engage in initiatives to drive positive outcomes in fisheries and aquaculture production.
“As we enter the fourth year of our Responsible Choice seafood program, Hy-Vee remains dedicated to doing business in a manner that promotes the well-being of our customers, employees, communities and the global environment,” Bremser said. “We recognize that in order to continue achieving our mission, we need to stay ahead of emerging issues.”
In 2013, due to concerns over the high levels of bycatch in fish aggregating device-associated purse seine fisheries and in longline tuna fisheries, Hy-Vee developed two Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified Hy-Vee Select canned-tuna products. Moving forward, Hy-Vee will work with its suppliers to improve the environmental, traceability and social responsibility of all shelf-stable tuna products it sells.
Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement 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 commends Hy-Vee’s willingness to begin identifying and addressing the environmental and social impacts of its shelf-stable tuna supply chains,” said Kathleen Mullen-Ley, project director at Santa Cruz, Calif.-based FishWise. “Their expanded Seafood Procurement Policy paves the way for more sustainable tuna options in the aisles of Hy-Vee stores and sets an ambitious example for other companies to follow.”
West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee Inc. operates more than 240 retail stores across eight Midwestern states.