Loblaw tops in seafood sustainability: Greenpeace


Loblaw is once again at the top of Greenpeace's grocery rankings on seafood sustainability.

The grocery giant came in first place among Canadian supermarket chains in the environmental group's annual report card, after falling to second place last year.

In Greenpeace's annual report, “Emerging from the deep: Ranking supermarkets on seafood sustainability,” released Thursday, Loblaw Cos. Ltd. received the top grade of 62 per cent.

“Canada’s supermarket chains are beginning to walk the talk and turning sustainability commitments to action on supermarkets shelves,” said Sarah King, Greenpeace oceans campaign coordinator.

“We are seeing these retailers tighten up their supply chains, but more work is required from them before diminishing ocean life is afforded the protection it needs.”

Leading the top-ranked grocer's efforts is Paul Uys, Loblaw vice-president of sustainable seafood, who has tried to reform its procurement practices with expert environmental advice, and input on species selection from such non-governmental organizations as the World Wildlife Foundation, SeaChoice and Greenpeace.

By 2013, Loblaw has committed to switching 100 per cent of its seafood and related products to sustainable wild-caught and farmed seafood certified by the Marine Stewardship Council or equivalent organization.

In its annual sustainable seafood progress report released Thursday, Loblaw said it is on track to reach its goal.

“We are moving into an exciting point of our journey, marked with notable achievements including introducing WiseSource Salmon, a more responsibly farmed Atlantic Salmon, and altering our procurement practice for fresh swordfish to pole and line or harpoon to launching an education website oceansfortomorrow.ca,” said Uys.

Loblaw's goals for the next 12 months include:

•    Increasing the number of MSC-certified products to 80 by expanding MSC-certified seafood offering at fresh seafood counters and encouraging national brand suppliers to provide additional MSC-certified products.
•    Supporting the transition to more responsible aquaculture by expanding availability of WiseSource Salmon in Eastern Canada stores, introducing Aquaculture Stewardship Council certified farmed seafood and pursuing a viable solution for closed containment aquaculture.
•    Using data from its proprietary vendor questionnaire, identify and take steps to manage “high risk” species or stock, both wild and farmed, and vendors who are unable or unwilling to meet its criteria.
•    Continuing industry collaboration with WWF, government and industry for a definitive recovery plan to rebuild and manage East Coast Atlantic cod as well as with scientific advisors and environmental partners on a responsible procurement practice for tuna species, particularly, yellow fin tuna.
•     Continuing customer engagement and education of customers through the oceansfortomorrow seafood website, Loblaw sustainable seafood Facebook page and in-store marketing materials.

Just three of the eight grocery chains that Greenpeace looked at got passing grades.

Last year's No 1., Overwaitea, scored 59 per cent this year, behind Loblaw's 62%. Safeway finished third with 51 per cent.

Meanwhile, chains not yet passing are: Sobeys (45 per cent); Walmart (43 per cent); Metro (43 per cent); Federated Co-operatives (38 per cent); and Costco (37 per cent).

The chains that failed weren't seen as not having made enough sustainability progress, Greenpeace said.

Greenpeace's scoring system consists of whether supermarkets have policies to increase the sustainability of the seafood products they sell, implementation of the policy, their ability to trace from source to store, and their communication efforts to customers.

Implementation of the policy includes the removal or substitution of species that are on Greenpeace's Redlist–species that the organization believes are at a high risk of being sourced from unsustainable fisheries.

When Greenpeace first ranked Canadian supermarkets three years ago, all eight chains failed, so it's been quite remarkable the industry has implemented seafood sustainabilty policies in such a short time frame.

Seafood demand has increased by more than 50 per cent, with wild stocks diminishing, driving demand for wild and farmed seafood.

Retailers next year will have to reduce the number of red species in their stores to improve markets for next year's ratings. Six species added to the red list this year include king crab, monkfish, Alaska pollock, rockfish and red fish, hake and Fraser River sockeye salmon.

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