CARLISLE, Pa. -- Giant Food Stores has rolled out a seafood initiative -- Eco-Sound -- that combines a fine-tuned method of procurement, an investment in sustainable resources and proactive consumer education.
Created earlier by the 116-unit chain's parent company, Ahold USA, the program has twin aims: to continue to provide customers with a quality product and to protect natural resources. By supporting well-managed fisheries that are dedicated to managing sustainable sources, the company can be assured of obtaining high-quality seafood into the future, officials said earlier this month.
Ahold USA teamed up with Boston-based New England Aquarium to customize the Eco-Sound program to its needs. The partnership provides research and buying recommendations to the Ahold procurement team based in Braintree, Mass. [See "Fish Friendly," SN, Nov. 3, 2003].
The sustainable seafood movement is gaining momentum as consumers learn more about it through the consumer media and that's prompting businesses to adjust buying practices to get in tune with what their customers want.
Earlier this spring, panelists at the International Boston Seafood Show noted consumers seem more concerned their seafood is sourced from an environmentally responsible supplier.
In fact, the moderator of the panel, Howard M. Johnson, a Jacksonville, Ore.-based consultant to the seafood industry, cited a recent survey showing that as many as seven out of 10 consumers would be more likely to purchase an "environmentally responsible" seafood product, with four out of 10 consumers indicating they would be much more likely to buy such items.
While much of the Eco-Sound program focuses on procurement, an essential part of the program is the training of all seafood associates in Ahold stores to acquaint them with the advantages of such a program, and to better enable them to communicate that information to their customers. Giant's associates, like associates in the rest of the Ahold network, have been required to take an exam based on the information they've received in training. When they pass the exam, they become Eco-Sound-certified.
Seafood offered at Giant of Carlisle is divided into two categories: wild harvested and that obtained from aquaculture or farms. Species in the wild-harvested category, taken from lakes, rivers or oceans, include cod, haddock, flounder, tuna, scallops, swordfish and lobster. Some of the species from farms include salmon, tilapia, catfish and shrimp.
Giant is working with a number of seafood farmers to build on and improve their operations. The goal, in keeping with the Eco-Sound Project, is to develop practices that produce high-quality fish while minimizing impact on the environment, officials said in a statement. They did not comment further.