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Whole Foods and Safeway ranked at the top of Greenpeace's 8th annual sustainable seafood scorecard, which evaluated 26 major retailers on sourcing and sustainability. The activist group "failed" four supermarkets – Roundy's, Bi-Lo, Save Mart and Publix – in its annual "Carting Away the Oceans" report, which further singled out Kroger for selling the most "red list" species of any U.S. grocery chain for the third consecutive year. Hy-Vee was evaluated for the first time and immediately entered the top five best performing retailers for sustainable seafood sourcing.
“Consumers want to be able to walk into their local grocery store and know that all the options are sustainable,” said James Mitchell, Greenpeace senior oceans campaigner. “That’s why Greenpeace is pushing companies like Bi-Lo, Save Mart and Roundy’s to drastically improve their sourcing, so that making the right decision is easy for their customers.”
'Sensationalized Scorecard' Baits Donors
Executives of the industry's leading seafood trade association blasted the Washington, D.C.-based activist group's annual “rank and spank” supermarket seafood scorecard as sensationalized and alarmist, and decries it as nothing more than a ploy to get media attention and appeal for donor dollars.
"These rankings tell us less and less each year about retailers and more and more about how much of an ineffective fund raising grab this is for Greenpeace," Gavin Gibbons, director of media relations for the National Fisheries Institute (NFI), told Progressive Grocer.
Meanwhile, Greenpeace further cautioned consumers against "the recent spate of industry buyouts," which it said "could radically shake-up retailers’ sustainability when it comes to seafood,” said Mitchell. “Notably, the significant progress made by Safeway could be severely undermined if its merger with Albertson’s means taking on Albertson’s inferior seafood policies and practices.”
In addition, Greenpeace said four of the top five supermarkets, including Whole Foods, Safeway, Trader Joe’s, Hy-Vee and Walmart, have or will shortly launch private label sustainable canned tuna products.
“When Greenpeace started ranking America’s retailers on seafood sustainability in 2008, every company failed. We’ve seen huge improvements since then, yet grocery giants like Kroger are still stocking too many threatened Red List species, which are often caught using highly destructive fishing methods,” according to Mitchell.
Despite progress made by the retail sector overall, he added, overfishing, destructive fishing and illegal fishing are still major problems for ocean conservation and the economies of developing countries.
The full "Carting Away the Oceans VIII" report is available here.