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Sweetbay Supermarket is unveiling a new partnership with The Florida Aquarium in Tampa and other groups on strict standards for seafood, as well as a pledge that all seafood sold at the Delhaize America banner is sourced sustainably.
Sweetbay spokeswoman Nicole LeBeau told Progressive Grocer that the chain had actually implemented the policy last year, but was now making it public.
“This is part of our corporate social responsibility as a company,” LeBeau told the Tampa Tribune, Sweetbay’s hometown newspaper. “It’s important to us, and for customers, to know the seafood they buy and use is from sustainable sources and will be there for years to come.”
LeBeau added that, partly because Sweetbay began phasing out some products from stores last year, current inventory and prices already reflect the changeover to sustainable seafood species.
“Sustainable seafood is a critical piece to the ecological safety of our oceans as well as the wellbeing of our local fisherman,” noted Thom Stork, president and CEO of The Florida Aquarium. “Sweetbay’s dedication to sustainable seafood is revolutionary and will be instrumental in educating people on the importance of this issue while helping to ensure the long-term sustainability of our local waters.”
Sweetbay customers will see posters and floor placards at the seafood counter referencing a company website at which they can find out where the stores’ seafood items originated.
Under the policy, the grocer works with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland on species status, and ensures that suppliers grant Sweetbay “full traceability” to their fishery area or seafood farm. Florida’s Gulf Coast Fisheries group provides additional information to the aquarium and Sweetbay.
Any wild-caught seafood must come from fisheries “governed by credible, enforceable and science-based management plans,” while farm-raised seafood must have “certification to the Global Aquaculture Alliance's Best Aquaculture Practices.”
The policy doesn’t institute a general ban of an entire species of seafood, since there are various ways of raising seafood in different regions. Therefore, Sweetbay determines whether each supplier is able to comply with the policy. Still, if the grocer can’t find a sustainable supplier for a specific product, it won’t be carried at the chain’s stores.
Sweetbay’s sister banners Food Lion and Hannaford have also rolled out sustainable seafood policies.