Greenpeace recently released its 2018 “Carting Away the Oceans” (CATO) report, ranking Whole Foods, Hy-Vee and Aldi the top three retailers out of the 22 largest supermarket chains in the U.S. for their seafood sustainability efforts. Target came in at No. 4, rounding out the retailers in this year’s “best” category.
Since 2008, Greenpeace has evaluated and ranked supermarkets in the CATO report based on their efforts to protect both the oceans and seafood industry workers.
The 10th edition of the CATO report found that grocery retailers across the U.S. have “vastly improved” on providing sustainable seafood, while “failing to take significant action on the growing problem of single-use plastics.” Overall, 90 percent of the retailers profiled received passing scores, ten years after every single retailer failed the first assessment.
Whole Foods remains the top ranked retailer this year, following the implementation of a strong shelf-stable tuna policy and marked sourcing improvements. Hy-Vee placed second, achieving high marks for its advocacy and transparency initiatives. Aldi moved into the top three for the first time ever, buoyed by new policies to address problem practices like transshipment at sea, which is linked to illegal fishing and human rights abuses. Target moved into the top four following improvements in policy and advocacy initiatives, though the company broke a 2010 commitment by re-introducing farmed salmon in its stores, says Greenpeace.
On the other end of the spectrum, Price Chopper, Save Mart and Wakefern scored the lowest in this year’s report. Trader Joe’s dropped the furthest for its lack of initiatives or customer engagement on sustainable seafood.
“More than eight years after Trader Joe’s committed to improve on seafood sustainability, the retailer does not have a robust, public sustainable seafood procurement policy,” the organization says.
None of the retailers profiled have comprehensive policies to reduce and ultimately phase out single-use plastics. The equivalent of a garbage truck of plastic enters the oceans every minute, and with plastic production set to double in the next 20 years—largely for packaging—the threats to ocean biodiversity and seafood supply chains are increasing, says Greenpeace. The organization is urging retailers to take responsibility for their contribution to this pollution crisis, as cities nationwide and large foodservice companies are already making commitments to start phasing out single-use plastics.
“Supermarkets across the country have made significant progress on seafood sustainability in recent years,” said Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner David Pinsky. “It is time for major retailers to put the same energy into tackling the other issues facing our oceans and seafood workers, such as plastic pollution and labor and human rights abuses in seafood supply chains. It’s not truly sustainable seafood if it is produced by forced labor and then wrapped in throwaway plastic packaging.”