Representatives from BJ's Wholesale Club, Delhaize America and Wegmans answered questions about retail's role in sustainable aquaculture during a panel discussion called “Mini-GOAL: Delivering Responsible Aquaculture to the Marketplace.”
Scott Williams, manager of quality assurance and product development at BJ's, said his company has a policy of not using eco-labels because everything that they stock should measure up to the BJ's standard.
The company also sees a link between increased sustainability and finding the next “it” fish. “What are people consuming, and what can we move them to?” said Williams, because that might make it easier to improve the conditions of an over-fished or over-farmed item.
Delhaize America has a partner that inspects fisheries to ensure they meet sustainability standards, said category manager Kim Taylor. It is important for the retailer to support smaller fisheries that may not be able to afford an eco-label.
Taylor added that Delhaize customers expect the retailer to stock sustainable seafood. “Even though they may not be thinking that they expect this, it's just a given,” she said.
While consumers may not value sustainability as highly as other seafood factors like freshness and taste right now, that is probably going to change, said Wegmans vice president of seafood Carl Salamone. “What's going to pay the bills tomorrow is going to be the responsible fishing methods.”
Salamone said that retailers “really have to belly up to the bar” in dealing with environmental issues, such as sustainable feed for fish farms, and recognize that it's worth paying a little bit more for products that are farmed responsibly.