Supervalu Changes Seafood Policy Amid Criticism

Greenpeace last month slammed the grocery operator and gave it a failing grade for its seafood sustainability practices, which it vows to change in the coming years.

Less than a month after being sharply criticized by Greenpeace for its sustainable seafood practices, Supervalu, Inc., on Thursday announced a plan to change them.

The Eden Prairie-based grocer pledged to source 100 percent of its 20 primary, wild-caught seafood products from sustainable fisheries “or those on a clear pathway to sustainability” by 2015. Supervalu plans to have the Marine Stewardship Council certify that its seafood comes from sustainable fisheries.

Supervalu said that it's been working with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for more than a year to assess its current seafood products and develop ways to improve the sustainability of its seafood buying practices and standards.

Supervalu claims that more than 40 percent of the 20 main, wild-caught seafood species it sells have already been certified or given some level of approval by the Marine Stewardship Council-a London-based organization that aims to transform the world's seafood markets and promote sustainable fishing practices.

But last month, environmental group Greenpeace gave Supervalu a failing grade for its seafood sustainability practices. Out of 20 major grocers ranked, Supervalu was one of five that the group said didn't meet muster.

“Supervalu has become the last nationwide retailer refusing to actively engage in seafood sustainability in any significant way,” according to the Greenpeace report. Greenpeace surveys found that Supervalu grocery chains “continue to sell an abysmal 18 of the 22 red-list seafoods”-species that the group strongly opposes sales of due to stock depletion, overfishing, irresponsible fishing methods, or other serious concerns.

Supervalu said that in addition to getting its seafood from sustainable fisheries, it also will financially support a WWF project to improve Indonesian yellowfin tuna fisheries.

“By sourcing our products from sustainable fisheries, as well as supporting fishery improvement projects, we are helping ensure sustainable seafood for generations to come,” Chris Hooks, Supervalu's vice president of meat, seafood, dairy, and frozen foods, said in a statement.

Supervalu operates a network of about 4,280 stores. It is Minnesota's fourth-largest public company based on revenue, which totaled $40.6 billion during the fiscal year that ended in February 2010. Revenue for the fiscal year that ended in February 2011 totaled $37.5 billion.