The company earned the highest overall score in the report’s nine-year history, as well as the highest individual scores for transparency, purchasing policies and private label canned tuna sourcing. This is the fifth time Whole Foods Market has earned the number one ranking.
Greenpeace’s 2015 Carting Away the Ocean’s (CATO) IX report ranks 25 major retailers in four areas: policy, initiatives, labeling and transparency and red-list inventory. Whole Foods Market’s strict purchasing policies for wild-caught and farmed fish, public advocacy, traceability requirements, canned tuna sourcing, customer education and fishmonger expertise all contributed to the company’s ranking.
After earning the CATO report’s top ranking in 2014, Whole Foods Market earned an even higher score in 2015 by enhancing sustainability efforts in several areas. The company launched new farmed mollusk standards, adding to its aquaculture standards for finfish and shrimp.
“Whole Foods Market is continuously working with our teams and stakeholders to strengthen our seafood sourcing with the goal of creating an impact far beyond our own company,” said Carrie Brownstein, global seafood quality standards coordinator for Whole Foods Market. “When shoppers select sustainable seafood, they are affecting change with their buying power, supporting the fishermen and fish farmers who are producing seafood responsibly. Earning another top ranking from Greenpeace is an honor and we hope it inspires others in the industry to take further steps toward greater sustainability, creating a tremendous, positive change on the oceans.”
Whole Foods Market excelled in the Sustainable Seafood Policy category of the report, earning the highest score of any retailer. The company purchases as much wild-caught seafood as possible from fisheries certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). For fisheries not MSC-certified, Whole Foods Market only sources from fisheries rated either green or yellow by the Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA) and The Safina Center (TSC) (formerly Blue Ocean Institute). In 2012, Whole Foods Market stopped selling all species rated red by MBA and TSC, becoming the first national grocer to make this commitment.
Greenpeace also identified Whole Foods Market’s selection of canned tuna as the best of any major U.S. retailer, an impactful category since America is the largest canned tuna market in the world. Launched in May 2014, the retailer’s Pole & Line Caught tuna is the most sustainable canned tuna option on the market. The fish in every can is caught one at a time using the pole and line method, which eliminates the bycatch of marine mammals, sharks and turtles that occurs in fisheries that use less selective fishing methods. In 2011, Whole Foods was the first retailer in the U.S. to introduce responsibly caught private label canned tuna.
Whole Foods Market excelled in Greenpeace’s labeling and transparency category for having pioneering case signs with sustainability ratings from MBA and TSC, as well as other point-of-purchase information like posters, pamphlets and knowledgeable fishmongers, along with online resources and transparent quality standards. The company also has full traceability from source to store, as well as dedicated port buyers selecting fish directly from the docks and company-owned processing facilities to create a clear, direct connection to seafood sources.