Greenpeace Grades Retailers on Seafood Sustainability

Discussion
Apr 13, 2011
George Anderson

Greenpeace USA’s fifth Carting Away the Oceans (CATO) report
raises the flag on unsustainable seafood industry practices while praising
the work of leading retailers to protect supplies.

According to an article on
the Greenpeace website, "a real paradigm shift" is
required in the industry’s thinking.

"Most seafood merchants continue to focus on large, predatory fish such
as cod, sharks, and tuna, while globally, populations of these ecologically
vital animals have dropped by as much as 90 percent," according to Greenpeace.

Safeway
earned the top spot on the Greenpeace list.

"Key points of improvement include policy development in both capture
and farmed seafood sourcing, new language aimed at promoting key conservation
initiatives, a marked increase in available consumer-focused information at
point-of-sale and online, and a substantial decrease in the red list species
carried by the chain," according to the report.

"Greenpeace is thrilled to see Safeway on this trajectory and eagerly
awaits further developments in the coming months and years. There is no doubt
that it is companies with this sort of willingness to challenge paradigms and
assumptions — not
to mention with the gumption to take a public stand on important political
conservation issues — that will lead the charge into the realm of truly
sustainable seafood sales."

Others getting a passing grade in order of
ranking from Greenpeace included 

Target (2010 winner), Wegmans (2009 winner), Whole Foods (2008 winner), Ahold,
Harris Teeter, Aldi, A&P, Price Chopper, Delhaize, Costco, Trader Joe’s,
Walmart, H.E. Butt and Kroger.

Giant Eagle, Publix, Supervalu, Winn-Dixie and
Meijer failed to make Greenpeace’s grade. 

"Companies like Winn-Dixie and Meijer still have yet to demonstrate even
the most cursory interest in seafood sustainability. Other companies, like
Supervalu and Publix, may be making some sort of progress, but refuse to discuss
the issue publicly and have yet to discontinue any of the multitude of red
list items that they sell," according to Greenpeace.

Discussion Questions: How aware are consumers about seafood sustainability issues? Is it good for business to have retailers engaged in seafood sustainability issues?

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7 Comments on "Greenpeace Grades Retailers on Seafood Sustainability"


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Richard J. George, Ph.D.
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

While some may dismiss Greenpeace as an organization, the issue of seafood sustainability is a real one that is gaining traction with consumers as the leading complying food retailers educate their customers. Food retailers who choose to ignore this growing issue do so at their own risk.

In addition, the increased focus on obesity highlights the role of seafood in a healthy diet and lifestyle. This convergence of seafood sustainability and obesity concerns represent the “perfect storm.”

Bernice Hurst
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

In the UK as well as the US there are an increasing number of people interested in where fish comes from and the fact that supplies are decreasing. Also, in both countries, there are an increasing number of people wanting to increase their consumption. This is partly because we are learning how to cook it and partly because we are realising it can and should contribute to a healthy, well balanced diet.

Demand and preferences, at least in the UK and Europe, is substantiated by this new report from the World Wildlife Fund.

If the American retailers praised by Greenpeace publicise that information, I think it will have a very positive effect on sales (and loyalty overall).

Roger Saunders
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

The sustainability issue has legs, and a small, but increasing number of consumers are attuned to the benefits. If Greenpeace works with retailers, as opposed to “browbeats” them, they’ll ramp up the message.

Respondents to the monthly Consumer Intentions & Actions (CIA) survey remain consistent in their patterns to noting they “Have become more environmentally responsible in my daily life.” “Guilt” is not going to save an appreciable amount of tuna. Education and benefit will take things higher. And, having retailers on board will promote Greenpeace’s message.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

I’m with my colleagues here. If the stores recognized by Greenpeace publicize that accomplishment, they’ll notice an uptick in seafood sales to consumers who follow current events. (Especially now, during Lent!)

Ryan Mathews
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

We need to separate the “foodies” and “greenies” from the value conscious and the “I don’t cares.”

Sustainability is a complex and largely massively abused concept in both food manufacturing and retailing and even environmental circles. True sustainability involves harmonizing dozens of disparate systems–economic, ecological, political, sociological, etc.–not just changing selective catch policies.

Will the Greenpeace endorsements help retailers?

Well, they won’t hurt and they certainly appeal to certain consumer niches but it’s going to be a while before the mass market converts to the cause.

David Livingston
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

Consumers and retailers could care less about seafood sustainability. If certain types of seafood don’t sell well, retailers will no longer sell the product and will claim they are concerned about seafood sustainability rather than admit the products don’t sell well. If consumers want a certain type of seafood, they will buy it. I don’t know of anyone who refuses to eat seafood because of sustainability. Supply, demand, availability, and price determine more how consumers eat seafood.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

What I think was remarkable here was how many major chains received “passing” grades; the usual m.o. with NGOs, of course, is to give practically everyone an “F” in an attempt to coerce them into changing their practices. Whatever the merits of this relatively realistic grading, though, I would have to agree the topic is on few people’s radars.

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