What is Sustainable Seafood?
Sustainable seafood comes from sources, whether fished or farmed, that can maintain or increase production in the long term without jeopardizing the structure or function of affected ecosystems.
Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy
It is Hy-Vee’s intent to sell high-quality seafood that not only is safe for consumption but also is harvested or raised in a manner that provides for its long-term viability (sustainability) while minimizing damage to the environment and other sea life. View our Seafood Procurement Policy.
Fresh and Frozen Seafood
Hy-Vee is committed to sourcing fresh and frozen seafood that is rated as a Green ‘Best Choice’ or a Yellow ‘Good Alternative’ by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, certified to an environmental standard equivalent to these ratings, or sourced from credible, time-bound improvement projects.
Hy-Vee is committed to sourcing seafood in our fresh-made Nori sushi bars and Hy-Vee Market Grille restaurants that is rated as a Green ‘Best Choice’ or a Yellow ‘Good Alternative’ by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, certified to an environmental standard equivalent to these ratings, or sourced from credible, time-bound improvement projects.
Hy-Vee recognizes that the shelf-stable tuna category has unique environmental, traceability and social responsibility challenges that require a distinct approach. Therefore, Hy-Vee 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 (Chain of Custody); 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
Additionally, Hy-Vee preferentially partners with shelf-stable tuna suppliers that:
- Have a published responsible purchasing policy and are participating in initiatives which are working to address environmental and social responsibility and traceability; and/or
- Are members of the International Pole & Line Foundation; and/or
- Are International Seafood Sustainability Foundation participating companies
View the Sustainable Shelf-Stable Tuna Policy press release.
Hy-Vee recognizes that traceability in seafood supply chains is essential for ensuring that our seafood is from legal and verifiable sources. We are committed to implementing industry best practices in traceability and working with our seafood suppliers to adopt more robust traceability systems.
Hy-Vee expects its seafood suppliers to uphold human rights principles and take appropriate steps to identify, prevent and mitigate abuse including human trafficking and forced labor. We will continue collaborative efforts with companies and organizations to find effective ways to prevent human trafficking and forced labor in seafood supply chains.
View the progress we're making on our Due Diligence Plan to meet the Traceability and Social Responsibility components of our policy.
Hy-Vee understands that strong policy and management at the local, state, national and international levels is critical to the long-term sustainability and social responsibility of seafood production. Therefore, we will support and engage in seafood industry policy and management reform initiatives that lead to positive social, economic and environmental outcomes in fisheries and aquaculture production, including ensuring implementation of core labor standards.
Hy-Vee’s Responsible Sourcing Commitments
Responsible Sourcing Commitment
In August 2017, Hy-Vee announced that 100 percent of our national brand frozen seafood is now responsibly sourced in compliance with its Seafood Procurement Policy. This exciting achievement means that Hy-Vee is the first Midwest retailer to guarantee that 100 percent of the fresh and frozen seafood sold in our more than 245 stores comes from environmentally responsible sources.
View the Responsible Sourcing Commitment press release.
Shelf-Stable Tuna Commitment
Hy-Vee will continually work to improve the environmental responsibility, traceability and social responsibility of our shelf-stable tuna products and support efforts to combat IUU fishing by sourcing from tuna fisheries in compliance with our Seafood Procurement Policy. Hy-Vee will publicly report on our annual progress toward this goal.
View the 100% Responsibly Sourced Private Label Tuna press release.
Proud to Offer Responsible Choices
Seafood products bearing the “Responsible Choice” symbol meet Hy-Vee’s policy and are caught or farmed in a responsible manner. Specifically, these options are rated as either Green ‘Best Choices’ or Yellow ‘Good Alternatives’ by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, or are certified to an environmental standard benchmarked to at least these ratings.
Responsible Choice Fresh and Frozen Seafood
- Fair Trade Certified Yellowfin Tuna: In 2016, we achieved our goal to source 100 percent Fair Trade Certified™ tuna in all of our fresh seafood cases, Hy-Vee Market Grille Restaurants and Asian departments.
- Salmon: All of Hy-Vee’s fresh and private label farmed salmon is responsibly sourced and is Seafood Watch Green or Yellow rated. We also offer Green-rated wild Alaskan salmon.
- Shrimp: By engaging in certification strengthening and encouraging shrimp farmers to improve, we were able to source 100 percent of our fresh and private label frozen, farmed shrimp from responsible sources.
- King Crab: In 2012, Hy-Vee transitioned sourcing to 100 percent Alaskan king crab and started the highly successful annual Alaskan king crab leg sales promotion.
Responsible Choice Shelf-Stable Tuna
Hy-Vee Select Solid Light Tuna: Made with skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis) sourced from sustainable, MSC-certified pole-and-line fisheries. This traditional method of tuna fishing is highly selective, catching one fish at a time and producing very little bycatch.
Hy-Vee Select Solid White Tuna: Made with albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga) sourced from sustainable, MSC-certified pole/troll fisheries. This method of tuna fishing is highly selective and ocean-friendly, and because pole/troll-caught albacore fisheries target younger tuna, it has lower levels of mercury than older fish caught in unsustainable longline fisheries.
Hy-Vee Chunk Light Tuna: Made with skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis) sourced from purse seine tuna vessels that do not use fish aggregating devices (FADs). The FAD-free method of fishing typically captures less bycatch, or non-target marine species, than fishing on FADs.
Hy-Vee Chunk White Tuna: Made with albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga) sourced from sustainable pole/troll fisheries in the Pacific Ocean. When you purchase Hy-Vee seafood, sushi and shelf-stable tuna, you are supporting best practices that will help ensure a healthy supply of seafood for generations to come.
Visit our Seafoodies Blog for recipes and more information about seafood.
Since Hy-Vee embarked on the mission to source responsible seafood, new issues and unanticipated challenges have arisen, and Hy-Vee has addressed them head-on. Complex challenges remain for Hy-Vee and for the seafood industry as a whole.
Being an industry leader in sustainable seafood means extending our work beyond our direct purchasing and engaging with the larger issues at hand.
Fair Trade Certified™
Hy-Vee believes that in order to take better care of our oceans and fish species, we also have to take care of fishermen and their communities. We are partnering with Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit organization and the leading certifier of Fair Trade products in North America. Through our partnership, we’re working to build more resilient livelihoods in coastal communities, improved working and living conditions, increased supply and demand for responsibly sourced seafood, and enhanced environmental stewardship and ecosystem protection.
The Fair Trade Certified™ label is a mechanism to reward best-in-class seafood companies for their commitment to sourcing ethical seafood, and we’re proud to be part of it.
Businesses for Bristol Bay
Hy-Vee understands that some of the biggest threats to the ocean and coastal communities can start on land. In October 2017, Hy-Vee joined the Businesses for Bristol Bay coalition to advocate for the protection of Bristol Bay, the most pristine and productive wild salmon habitat in the world, from potentially devastating impacts from the proposed Pebble Mine project. If developed, toxic runoff from the Pebble Mine would contaminate nearby Bristol Bay, where Hy-Vee sources much of our wild salmon. An environmental disaster would jeopardize thousands of independent businesses, tens of thousands of jobs, and an economic engine that sustains Alaska’s economy. As part of this effort, Hy-Vee signed on to a letter to President Trump and U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt advocating for the protection of Bristol Bay.
Legislation to Address Illegal Fishing and Human Trafficking
In support of legal and traceable seafood in the United States, Hy-Vee sent letters to representatives in the U.S. House and Senate urging them to pass legislation that addresses illegal fishing and cracks down on human trafficking. The Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Act of 2015 was signed into law on Nov. 5, 2015. This is an important step toward ensuring our U.S. seafood marketplace is composed of safe, legal and responsible seafood and that illegal fishing is reduced in the waters around the world.
Pledge for GE-Free Seafood
Hy-Vee’s policy is to sell seafood that is safe for consumption and harvested or raised in a responsible manner. Hy-Vee will not purchase or sell genetically modified or genetically engineered seafood. We are confident this is the best decision for our customers as well as the environment.
Genetically modified and genetically engineered seafood products are inconsistent with Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy, which can be found here. Our commitment to not sell genetically engineered seafood is highlighted on the Friends of the Earth pledge website at www.foe.org.
Fishery Improvement Projects
A fishery improvement project (FIP) is a multi-stakeholder effort to improve a particular aspect of a fishery. FIPs are an important component of Hy-Vee's Seafood Procurement Policy as they provide a direct pathway for Hy-Vee to encourage improvements on the water — be that through strengthening fisheries management policies or by providing incentives for fishers to reduce the environmental impacts of their fishing gear. To promote healthy oceans and ensure long-term seafood supplies, Hy-Vee is actively encouraging its seafood suppliers to participate in FIPs.
Socially Responsible Seafood
Industry Stakeholder Committees
Hy-Vee has officially committed to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, a set of 17 targets that aim to eliminate poverty, protect the environment, and promote global peace and prosperity. Our involvement centers around a group commitment created by Conservation International and supported by our partner FishWise: Committing to Social Responsibility in Global Fisheries and Aquaculture. Our pledge addresses human rights in seafood supply chains and aligns with one of the 17 overall goals, Goal 14: Life Below Water. As the first retailer to sign on, we are committing to best practices in social responsibility in the seafood sector, including adopting Fair Trade-certified seafood, practicing due diligence to combat possible human rights risks in our seafood supply chains, and annually reporting on progress against these targets. Be sure to check back periodically for updates on this goal and Hy-Vee's milestones in social responsibility.
Hy-Vee participates in external industry stakeholder groups to advocate for sustainable seafood on a national level. Currently, we serve on the Food Marketing Institute’s (FMI) Seafood Strategy Committee, Sustainability Committee, and Private Brands Group Leadership Council. We also work with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI), Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association and Copper River Marketing Association.
Recognition for Conservation Leadership
Greenpeace recently released its 2018 Carting Away the Oceans (CATO) report, ranking Hy-Vee No. 2 out of the 22 largest supermarket chains in the U.S. for its sustainability efforts. Since 2008, Greenpeace has evaluated and ranked supermarkets in the CATO report based on their efforts to protect both the oceans and seafood industry workers.
Hy-Vee has consistently ranked highly in sustainability in Greenpeace’s annual Carting Away the Oceans (CATO) report, coming in at #5 in 2014 and at #3 in 2015.
Hy-Vee also ranked #5 on the 2017 Greenpeace USA Canned Tuna Shopping Guide for the United States.
Seafood Traceability & Transparency
Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy establishes environmental sourcing criteria and expectations for traceability and social responsibility in our seafood supply chains. The 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.
As part of our Responsible Choice seafood program, Hy-Vee collects in-depth information on seafood product sourcing from all of our fresh and frozen seafood, sushi and shelf-stable tuna suppliers at least once a year. This allows Hy-Vee to have visibility into our seafood supply chains. FishWise reviews the data and conducts traceability exercises to ensure accuracy.
On an annual basis, Hy-Vee updates our suppliers on the Seafood Procurement Policy and outlines expectations for their explicit role in ensuring that seafood is harvested in compliance with the policy, including fair labor practices.
View Hy-Vee’s current Supplier Expectations Letter here.
Hy-Vee Employs a USDC Lot Inspector
Several years ago, Hy-Vee became one of the first retailers in the Midwest to hire our own U.S. Department of Commerce (USDC) lot inspector to ensure the quality, safety and integrity of the fresh seafood it buys. The USDC inspector is stationed on-site at our Perishable Distributors of Iowa (PDI) distribution facility in Ankeny, Iowa, where he routinely checks incoming shipments of fresh seafood, ensuring that it meets Hy-Vee’s standards.
What is FishWise?
To help us achieve our goals of sourcing sustainable seafood, we partnered with FishWise, an environmental nonprofit organization that promotes the health and recovery of ocean ecosystems through environmentally and socially responsible business practices.
FishWise helps companies improve the sustainability of their seafood offerings via employee training, sourcing assistance, and point-of-sale information. Their programs allow consumers to make environmentally informed choices when purchasing seafood.
To learn, more visit www.fishwise.org