By Rick Stein, Vice President, Fresh, Food Marketing Institute

Seafood TransparencyThe US seafood market is becoming increasingly transparent as seafood-buying companies make use of the tools available to describe where their seafood comes from. Such tools include ecolabels, QR codes, online supplier maps and fishery source lists, among others.

Developed to be a global platform for seafood transparency, the Ocean Disclosure Project (ODP) has attracted notable attention from the seafood industry since its launch in 2015 by Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP). The project enables seafood-buying companies to voluntarily disclose their wild-caught seafood sourcing through a common template. To date, 13 companies from North America and Europe have participated in the ODP, ranging from food retailers to suppliers and aquaculture feed manufacturers.

Transparency around responsible sourcing is an integral component of seafood sustainability. It empowers shoppers to make better purchasing decisions and drives food retailers, suppliers and producers to be open and accountable for their business practices.

Three of FMI’s US retail members, Publix Super Markets Inc, Walmart US, and Giant Eagle Inc. have already agreed to participate by sharing their seafood source list in the form of an annual ODP profile. Each company profile contains a list of species sourced, alongside information on the fishery location, catch method, health and management of the fish stock, and environmental impact of the fishery. The profiles are designed to be easily accessible and understood, making them a valuable resource for interested seafood consumers, responsible investors, and others interested in sustainable seafood.

In April 2017, Publix became the first US retailer to participate in the ODP. “Publix’s seafood sustainability philosophy is to provide transparency for our customers while engaging with our suppliers to drive change in the seafood industry,” said Maria Brous, director of media and community relations. “Sustainability is about continuous improvement. SFP and Publix have shared values and vision for a more sustainable seafood future. Through our collaboration on the Ocean Disclosure Project, we are able to evaluate our current sustainability landscape, prioritize our impact, and support the supply chain from the fishermen to the processors through fishery improvement projects, allowing us to ultimately offer our customers more of the options they are looking for.”     

Walmart US agreed to share its seafood sourcing information in November 2017. “We are proud of our efforts to make the seafood we sell more sustainable and joining the Ocean Disclosure Project is one more way we can show our passion and commitment for sustainability and transparency,” said Laura Phillips, senior vice president of sustainability for Walmart. “ODP provides an important service to consumers and other stakeholders when understanding where their seafood comes from.”

And most recently, Giant Eagle joined the ODP in March 2018. “At Giant Eagle, sustainability is a company-wide, strategic initiative,” said Jannah Jablonowski, Giant Eagle spokesperson. “Through our strong partnerships with organizations like the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, and participation in the Ocean Disclosure Project, we’re pleased to be able to share this valuable sourcing information with our seafood customers.”

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