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Trader Joe's adopts sustainable seafood standards

Greenpeace activists dressed as endangered orange roughy protest in front of a Trader Joe's in San Francisco. The grocery chain has adopted new sustainability standards. (Kim White/Greenpeace)

Trader Joe's has announced that it will sell only sustainably sourced seafood by the end of 2012.

In announcement posted on its Web site, the grocery chain would remove species condemned by environmental groups from its shelves, establish a transparent sourcing policy and leverage its buying power to change the seafood industry. The phase-out applies to all fresh, frozen and canned seafood.

The move comes after months of pressure from environmental groups. In July 2009, the company agreed to stop selling orange roughy. Last month, red snapper disappeared from the shelves. "This is a big deal," said Casson Trenor, senior markets campaigner for Greenpeace. "What we're seeing here is the transformation of what was the U.S. seafood industry's worst nationwide laggard into a company that will likely become an industry leader within the next year or two."

Trader Joe’s, which has established a cost-conscious but eco-friendly brand, has long disappointed sustainable-seafood activists. It was ranked 17 out of 20 retailers, the lowest of any national grocery chain, in Greenpeace's regular review of sustainable seafood policies and practices among major retailers. Based on its new policies, Trader Joe’s is expected to receive a passing grade in the next report, tentatively scheduled for release the week of April 26, Greenpeace said.

Several national retailers have taken steps in recent months to establish or improve their seafood buying policies. In January, Target announced it would replace farmed salmon with the more sustainable Alaskan wild salmon.

Still, work remains to be done, Trenor said. Of the 20 largest supermarket chains in the United States, eight have still made no visible effort to increase the sustainability of their seafood operations, according to the latest report from Greenpeace. These include: Aldi, Costco, Giant Eagle, H.E.B., Meijer, Price Chopper, Publix and Winn Dixie.

-- Jane Black

By Jane Black  |  March 29, 2010; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  Sustainable Food  | Tags: Jane Black, sustainable seafood  
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"Target" will now be selling Alaskan wild salmon instead of farmed?! I wasn't aware Target sold edible fish at all...

Posted by: BeauTochs | March 30, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Indeed it does. Target announced a big move into perishable foods last year.

Posted by: joeyonan | March 30, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

This was a good move by Trader Joe’s. Unfortunately there was also some disappointing news on sustainable seafood recently: the defeat of a proposed ban on exporting overfished Atlantic bluefin tuna during a meeting of many countries. Tim Fitzgerald of Environmental Defense Fund was on Kojo Nnamdi to discuss that decision and how to pick sustainable seafood

It’s important for people to know what fish are and aren’t environmentally friendly since not every store or restaurant will make a move like Trader Joe’s.

Posted by: valerievh | March 30, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

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