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Safeway Leads Greenpeace Seafood Rankings

Safeway has surged into first place in Greenpeace’s rankings of major seafood retailers, surpassing last year’s winner Target.

Target and Wegmans now tie for second place on the Supermarket Seafood Sustainability Scorecard (pdf), pushing Whole Foods from third to fourth.

The top 15 supermarkets in the rankings all get passing grades from Greenpeace (shown in orange on the chart), but Giant Eagle, Publix, Supervalu, Winn-Dixie and Meijer all get failing grades (shown in red). None of the five responded to Greenpeace’s request for information.

These results stand in stark contrast to the scorecard from three years ago, when all 20 retailers assessed got failing grades.

“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,” Greenpeace senior markets campaigner Casson Trenor said.

It notes that more and more retailers are refusing to stock orange roughy, which Greenpeace says is one of the most vulnerable fish stocks on the planet. Safeway and Wegman’s have both publicly supported a no-take marine reserve in Antarctica’s Ross Sea, “the last pristine ocean on earth”, Greenpeace said.

But Greenpeace notes that none of the supermarkets achieved a “green” score.

“We are cheered by the great progress, but until retailers acknowledge their role in destroying our oceans and in propagating environmentally damaging aquaculture, consumers will struggle to find a truly responsible seafood merchant,” the organization says.

Newspaper reports last May said that Publix was launching a new seafood grading system that will rank environmental attributes of more than 300 seafood items. The retailer said it was working with three environmental groups — the Ocean Trust, Ocean Conservancy and the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership — to develop its sustainability standards.

But the Greenpeace report said that Publix has yet to implement a sustainable seafood policy, and said that the non-profit could not locate any information on the seafood grading system in Publix annual reports or other publicly available information.

This week Kroger announced that it will remove shark, marlin and bluefin tuna from its cases, and will aim to use certified sources for its top 20 wild-caught seafood items by 2015, after reaching an agreement with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Greenpeace said the discontinuation of shark, marlin and bluefin is a powerful first step. The organization said it does not endorse Kroger’s chosen certification body, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), but acknowledged that the move is evidence of progress in Kroger’s ethical sourcing.

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One thought on “Safeway Leads Greenpeace Seafood Rankings

  1. I am looking forward to the day–hopefully in the very near future–when supermarkets will make buying sustainable seafood easier for the consumer. It’s laudable that Safeway and other supermarkets have stopped stocking fish such shark and marlin. However, those aren’t fish I purchase for weekday dinners. How do I as a shopper know if the shrimp for sale has been farmed in recirculating tanks? How can I be sure that the “wild-caught” fish for sale was caught in a way that did not destroy a habitat? Having this information is important for me as I shop for seafood but currently, even Safeway, Wegman’s and other top-rated markets get failing marks (as far as I’m concerned) for transparency.

    Recently, I went to talk to a Safeway fishmonger at my neighborhood store. She’s worked at Safeway for several years and is now the manager of the seafood department. Not only was she clueless about Safeway’s top ranking for seafood-sustainable marketing practices, but also (and a surprise to me) she was unfamiliar with the term “sustainable seafood” or that some fish species are endangered.

    It’s clear that Safeway has more work to do to help customers, and its own employees, recognize which types of seafood are safest and most sustainably sourced.

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