Walmart recognizes suppliers' efforts at sustainability-focused meeting

To help Walmart continue expanding its sustainable seafood supply, the largest global retailer recently met with several large United States seafood suppliers, along with sustainability certifiers and other groups.

The retailer, which operates more than 5,400 Walmart and Sam’s Club stores in the U.S., also recognized three suppliers at the 1 February “Sustainability Summit” at Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Munhall, Pennsylvania-based The Fishin’ Company was recognized for partnering with Walmart to source its first four-star BAP certified tilapia, Mark Eastham, Walmart’s senior manager for sustainability, told SeafoodSource.

Meanwhile, Jacksonville, Florida-based wholesaler Beaver Street Fisheries was recognized for “its work with Walmart to support a more sustainable shrimp supply chain,” Eastham said.

Frozen seafood supplier North Atlantic Inc., based in Portland, Maine, was recognized for its engagement in Fishery Improvement Projects across the globe. 

“They were also the first supplier to sign up for the Ocean Disclosure Project,” Eastham said. North Atlantic also operates Bali Seafood International, which is building a commercially sponsored fishery management model for small-boat fisheries in Indonesia.

Around 75 suppliers in total attended the sustainability summit, along with representatives of the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Best Aquaculture Practices program, the Marine Stewardship Council, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, and the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative.

“This forum provides us with the opportunity to reflect on what we have accomplished and what we can do to accelerate progress toward sustainability – so that we can enjoy not only a vibrant seafood industry but vibrant oceans,” Eastham said.

By 2025, Walmart will expand and enhance sustainable sourcing to cover 20 key commodities. 

“This is an important issue for Walmart, as seafood is one of the commodities we have pledged to be a part of our long-term sustainability commitments,” Eastham said.

Walmart is working with sustainable seafood suppliers that share the retailer’s commitment to providing sustainable seafood to its customers, he said.

“Our goal is to build transparency and continuous improvement with the seafood supply chain, so that we can build confidence and provide for our customers now and in the future,” Eastham said.

At the meeting, Walmart executives highlighted the retailer’s progress in sourcing sustainable seafood to date and discussed the company’s future goals. Eastman said by 2025, “based on certain factors including price and demand,” Walmart U.S., Sam’s Club, and Walmart Canada will require all canned light and white tuna suppliers to source from fisheries that are either third-party certified or engaged in fishery improvement projects (FIPs). The company has also committed to carrying FAD-free and pole and line canned tuna in its U.S., Canadian, and ASDA-brand stores, Eastham said.

Other recent global efforts by Walmart to improve the sustainability of its seafood include:

  • A collaboration with Japanese suppliers and nonprofits to launch Japan’s first FIP, with the aim of improving the sustainability of the sea perch fisheries in Tokyo Bay.
  • The launch of its seafood initiative in the United Kingdom, the U.S., and Canada in 2016, in fiscal year 2017, the expansion of its initiative to Brazil, Mexico and Central America, with ongoing efforts in all the above markets expand sustainable seafood offerings and efforts by working with suppliers to gain greater transparency into their seafood sourcing.
  • Achievement of 100 percent of Walmart and Sam’s Club fresh and frozen, farmed and wild seafood being sustainably sourced in accordance with Walmart’s Seafood Policy, based on supplier-reported data in the U.S.
  • Achieving a 99 percent Best Aquaculture Practices certification rate for its farmed supply chain in 2016, with the remaining one percent of farmed suppliers committing to obtaining certification within the year.
  • Reaching a 35.9 percent Marine Stewardship Council or Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative certification rate for the retailer’s U.S. wild seafood suppliers, with the remainder of its suppliers involved in FIPs, with plans in place to achieve sustainable certification.

Eastham also said Walmart had teamed with Sustainable Fisheries Partnership to track its seafood supply against its sustainability policy. SFP helps Walmart track suppliers, species, catch type, fishery of origin, certifications, and improvement projects, Eastham said. 

Christine Blank           
(From www.seafoodsource.com)

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