How Sustainable Is the Seafood at Your Supermarket?
ADAM CAMPBELL-SCHMITT August 16, 2018
As savvy customers take an interest in the sustainability of their seafood, sourcing environmentally-friendly fish is sometimes easier said than done. Sure, fishmongers and conscientious chefs can and will tell you where your fish is from and opt to offer replenishable species over overfished varieties, but what about the place where most Americans shop for their food: the supermarket?
Environmental activist organization Greenpeace hopes to help shoppers make better-informed decisions about where they buy seafood from with a ranking of some of the country’s major grocery chains. In its 2018 Supermarket Seafood Ranking, Greenpeace highlights 22 national and regional grocery stores and rates them from one to one hundred on factors such as their seafood policy, initiatives taken to ensure and promote sustainability, transparency of their supply chain and products, and how sustainable the actual inventory in the seafood section is, averaging all four categories to give each supermarket an overall score. Here’s who came out on top:
1. Whole Foods—80.4: Greenpeace cited Whole Foods’ new sustainable canned tuna policy, use of clear signage on products, and it’s ongoing efforts to avoid illegally-caught seafood as some of the reasons the Amazon-owned chain came out on top.
2. Hy-Vee—79.8: Midwest chain Hy-Vee audits its supply chain, trains staff to answer sustainability questions, and publishes a Seafoodies blog to educate customers about making responsible choices.
3. Aldi—71.9: The beloved Germany-based chain earns a “green” status for the first time with its commitment to reduce human rights abuses in shipping, providing fish species’ scientific names, and putting its policies online in detail.
4. Target—70.8: The retail chain is making moves toward sourcing sustainable fish like canned tuna, avoiding PVC and polystyrene packaging in its house-brand products, and due to its limited selection of seafood can easily avoid problematic fish species (however it has reneged on a 2010 policy to sell only wild-caught salmon with the re-introduction of farm-raised salmon products).
Popular chains Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, and Costco each came in somewhere in the middle with scores of 65.4, 58.1, and 56.2 respectively. Greenpeace conducted its ranking through “a standardized eight-page survey, email and phone conversations, publicly available information, and in-store visits.” (Some stores that did not participate in the survey are noted as such.) You can read details about each grocery store’s scoring on the Greenpeace supermarket seafood ranking website.