Canada Safeway Announces New Sustainable Sourcing Practice for Canned Tuna

Canada Safeway, a recognized leader in embracing sustainable seafood practices has joined parent company Safeway in announcing that its Safeway brand skipjack (chunk-light and flaked-light) canned tuna will be responsibly caught using free-school purse-seine methods and without using harmful fish aggregating devices (FADs). The company will transition to the free-school purse-seine method by the end of 2012. Free-school tuna is caught by purse-seiners using traditional methods of spotting schools of fish using radar and sonar as captains employ powerful binoculars to spot birds attracted by schools of tuna.

Chuck Mulvenna, President and Chief Operating Officer for Canada Safeway said the new sourcing policy is an important step in addressing the consumer demand for a more sustainably sourced product without compromising quality. “We are pleased to make this announcement as we include our private label canned tuna category in Canada Safeway’s comprehensive Sustainable Seafood Policy. Sourcing responsibly fished tuna is vital to marine ecosystem health and an important addition to our overall Sustainable Seafood strategy” said Mulvenna.

Safeway is implementing these new specifications at a time when the tuna fishing industry is finding better ways to address the significant negative ecosystem impacts associated with purse-seine fisheries employing FADs. Safeway’s move to eliminate FAD-caught tuna is part of the effort to make its branded tuna across the shelf stable category more responsibly sourced and to also enhance the company’s “Dolphin Safe” tuna commitments made years ago to Earth Island Institute. Safeway is in the process of instituting additional specifications for responsibly sourced albacore tuna caught on longline vessels with improved fishing techniques.

Safeway brand “responsibly caught” tuna is the first private label brand in North America to make this important move. In light of the above commitments, Canada Safeway was recognized as the top grocery retailer in the Greenpeace 2012 Canned Tuna Sustainability Ranking, placing 5th overall.

“Canada Safeway’s commitment to switch to skipjack caught without harmful FADS, move away from Redlisted yellowfin tuna and vow not to source its skipjack from proposed marine reserves of the Pacific Ocean highlights the type of progressive action needed to ensure tuna fish for the future,” said Sarah King, Greenpeace Canada’s oceans campaign coordinator. “Greenpeace applauds Safeway’s leadership and we look forward to seeing strong plans for its albacore products.”

SeaChoice applauds the progressive steps being taken by Canada Safeway and their suppliers to source more ocean-friendly canned tuna options” said Kelly Roebuck, SeaChoice representative from Living Oceans Society. “We are excited with Safeway’s progress to date and support this important initiative with one of Canada’s leading retailers”.

Safeway’s sourcing decision is driven by concerns about over-harvesting of fish and the significant mortality rate of non-target (bycatch) species — such as sea turtles, sharks, and pelagic fish — associated with skipjack fishing using FADs. Fishing tuna without FADs can significantly reduce bycatch levels. However, verifying that a tuna source is not using FADs requires new protocols and building partnerships with stakeholders in ocean ecology. In the future, Safeway will conduct in-depth research towards bringing to market economically viable, bio-regionally supported pole and line sourced tuna fish. By establishing this detailed sourcing plan, Safeway will be working with capable suppliers and verification partners who can provide responsibly caught tuna with full supply chain transparency.

Safeway has made clear its intention to work with the fishing industry, governments, regional fisheries management organizations, NGOs, and scientists to improve the management, sustainability and fairness of the fisheries that Safeway continues to source from.

Safeway is an industry leader in environmental sustainability, ethical business practices and effective community outreach. Safeway upholds an operating philosophy that is rooted in corporate social responsibility focused on four key fundamentals: People, Products, Community, and the Planet. These fundamentals are at the heart of Safeway, bringing together the company’s passion for food and serving customers with the rapidly developing needs of local communities and the planet.

About Canada Safeway Limited: Safeway Inc. is a Fortune 100 company and one of the largest food and drug retailers in North America, based on sales. Safeway Inc. operates 1,678 stores in the United States and western Canada and had annual sales of $43.6 billion in 2011. Canada Safeway, a wholly owned subsidiary of Safeway Inc. operates 224 stores across Western Canada. The company’s common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol SWY.

Notes to Editors:

A fish-aggregating (or aggregation) device (FAD) is a man-made object used to attract ocean-going pelagic fish such as tuna. They usually consist of buoys or floats tethered to the ocean floor with concrete blocks. Over 300 species of fish gather around FADs. FAD’s attract fish for numerous reasons that vary by species. Fish tend to move around FADs in varying orbits, rather than remaining stationary below the buoys. Both recreational and commercial fisheries use FAD.

A Purse Seine is designed to be set by two boats around a school of fish and then closed at the bottom by means of a line.

Safeway Inc. was the North America’s first major grocery retailer to implement sourcing of “Dolphin Safe Tuna” in 1991.

FAD Free fishing reduces bycatch of non-target and juvenile tuna.

In July, 2011 Canada Safeway announced its decision to no longer procure yellowfin tuna for its private label canned tuna.

In July 2011, Canada Safeway announced its comprehensive Sustainable Seafood Policy in partnership with SeaChoice. The Policy states that by 2015, all fresh and frozen seafood will be sourced from sustainable and traceable sources, or be in a credible improvement project.

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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.