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Safeway, Whole Foods Win First ‘Good’ Greenpeace Seafood Ratings

Safeway and Whole Foods have become the first retailers ever to earn a “green”, or “good” rating for commitment to the sustainability of the seafood they sell, in Greenpeace’s annual Seafood Retailer Scorecard.

The grocery chains earned scores of 7.1 and seven respectively in the scorecard, which has been released each year since 2008. Seven is the lowest score that qualifies for a green rating, according to Greenpeace’s 2012 Carting Away the Oceans report.

Greenpeace congratulated Safeway on its grade while saying there was still “room for improvement.” The environmental group criticized the presence of “brands that plunder the planet in search of short-term profit” in the store’s canned tuna section. Greenpeace urged the retailer to consider applying its own brands’ formative tuna sourcing policies to national brand products.

Whole Foods’ recent Earth Day pledge to stop carrying “red list” species – those species deemed to be suffering from overfishing or those whose current fishing methods harm other marine life – singled it out for individual praise from Greenpeace. The move had “catalyzed incredible change” in the store’s inventory, Greenpeace said. Since 2008 Whole Foods has removed six red list species from its stores. It still sells 12, the report says.

Since the report was launched in 2008 the 20 retailers analyzed have stopped selling a combined 67 red list species, the report says. Grocery chain A&P has taken eight such species off its shelves in that time period, the most of any of the retailers in the report, but still sells eight red list species. Costco has removed seven red list species and still sells eight. Kroger, which scored 4.3 on the scorecard and ranked 16th out of 20, has removed no red list species from its seafood cases and still stocks 17, the report says.

Since 2008, the top score in the report has more than doubled from Whole Foods’ 3.5 in 2008 to Safeway’s 7.1 in 2012. The overall average performance of the industry has also improved over that time period. In 2008, every retailer in the report was given a red or “fail” rating, but by last year 75 percent of retailers in the report were given an orange or “pass” rating. This year, 70 percent of retailers were awarded a pass rating, and 10 percent were given “good” ratings.

In other sustainable seafood news, the Food Marketing Institute has released its first Sustainable Seafood Toolkit, a free resource providing retailers information on the integration and implementation of seafood sustainability procurement policies and procedures.

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