April 14, 2011
Safeway is the new sustainable seafood retail leader, according to the fifth annual Greenpeace seafood sustainability report, “Carting Away the Oceans.”
Greenpeace described Safeway’s top ranking as a “shock move,” as it jumped three places from its No. 4 ranking last year, supplanting Target, the number-one retailer last year and surpassing specialty grocers Whole Foods and Wegmans.
Ahold came in at No. 5, followed by Harris Teeter, Aldi, A&P, Price Chopper and Delhaize ranked 10th. The other five companies in the top 15 (in orange on the charts below) that received passing grades include Costco, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, H.E. Butt and Kroger.
Receiving failing grades because they did not respond to Greenpeace’s requests for information (noted in red on the chart) were Giant Eagle, Publix, Supervalu, Winn-Dixie and Meijer.
A testament to the progress the grocery industry is making in seafood sustainability, all 20 retailers assesses in this year’s report received failing grades just three years ago, according to Greenpeace.
“The fact that we have now seen such a wide variety of retailers lead the pack -- from organic specialty retailers and high-end stores to big-box retailers to one of the biggest national chains in the country -- just emphasizes that sustainability is not a niche luxury trend, but an important response to customer demand and responsible retailing,” said Casson Trenor, senior markets campaigner for Greenpeace. “It’s an amazing testament to the ongoing pressure from consumers, supporters and activists that in just three years, we’ve gone from a situation where all 20 major U.S. retailers assessed failed, to today when 15 retailers have now achieved a passing score.
Greenpeace also lauded top retailers for not carrying Orange Roughy, described as one of the “most vulnerable fish stocks on earth.” In fact, “two retailers -- Safeway and Wegmans -- publicly support a no-take marine reserve in the last pristine ocean on earth, Antarctica’s Ross Sea,” Trenor noted.
Greenpeace rated retailers on their seafood policies, initiatives, labeling and transparency (how much information they provide in stores, online and in reports), and their sales of 22 endangered (red list) species.
Each received a grade of between zero and 100 points, with Safeway earning a 64.61 score. Retailers who scored under 40 points failed.
Despite all the good news in the report, not a single large retailer has achieved a “green” score in the Greenpeace Seafood Sustainability Ranking. “Greenpeace wants to ensure we have fish for the future, that the industry will sustain itself instead of fishing itself out of existence, and that consumers can continue to enjoy the fruits of the sea without being complicit in its destruction,” Trenor said.
Click here to download “Carting Away the Oceans.”
Whole Foods and Kroger
In other seafood news, Whole Foods is on track to stop selling all red-rated swordfish and tuna at its seafood counters nationwide by Earth Day, April 22. Last September, the grocer announced this deadline for sourcing swordfish and tuna more sustainably as part of a larger initiative to move toward fully-sustainable seafood departments.
Meanwhile, Kroger plans to convert its top 20 seafood species to certified sustainable sources by 2015. To date, half of Kroger’s top 20 species are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council or are in the process of certification assessment.
Kroger is also supporting several Fishery Improvement Projects with World Wildlife Federation, including the Ecuadorian mahi mahi and Indonesian yellowfin tuna fisheries. Kroger no longer sells shark, marlin or bluefin tuna due to sustainability concerns.
GRD Views: Congratulations to the retailers that were positively recognized in this report. Given conversations I’ve had with some of the retailers who did not make the cut, I know they have plans in place that will result in them being included next year. When you consider the change in how seafood is being merchandised at retail today versus three years ago, there can be no questioning the positive impact Greenpeace has had on seafood purchasing and merchandising. -- John Failla for Green Retail Decisions