How sustainable is your supermarkets seafood?

by James Mitchell

May 13, 2014

Its no secret that the state of our oceans overall is a major environmental concern. But there is a silver lining. More and more supermarkets are getting serious about sustainable seafood.

Every year, Greenpeace releases its annual rankings of U.S. supermarkets and sustainable seafood. We call it Carting Away the Oceans. This year, we profiled 26 of the largest supermarkets across the U.S.

Shopping responsibly can be pretty overwhelming. We want the task of making the right decision to be as easy as possible.

For starters, here are the scores:

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 2.13.35 PM

In addition to the rankings, several cool trends have emerged:

  • Wegmans earned a good rating (7.0/10 and above) for the first time.
  • Newly-profiled Hy-Vee stunned everyone by landing in fifth place right out of the gates.
  • Of the top five ranked supermarkets, four have launched or will shortly launch private label (store brand) sustainable canned tuna products. Consumers can now find sustainable and affordable alternatives to destructively-caught tuna at Whole Foods, Safeway, Trader Joes, Hy-Vee, and Walmart.
  • Hy-Vee and Ahold USA (Giant, Stop n Shop, Martins) recently joined the growing chorus of retailers (Safeway, Trader Joes, and SUPERVALU) calling for protection of part of the Bering Sea Canyons in Alaska. This region houses key fisheries whose futures are threatened by industrial fishing.
A worker sorts a small-boat halibut catch near Otter Island in the Bering Sea.

A worker sorts a small-boat halibut catch near Otter Island in the Bering Sea.

Of course, no ranking would be complete without some downers:

  • Four retailers Publix, Save Mart, Bi-Lo, and Roundys performed so poorly that they failed in the rankings (below 4.0/10).
  • Kroger maintains its notorious top spot in selling the most destructively-sourced Red List seafood products in its stores. This is particularly problematic given Krogers size.

Weve come a long way since Greenpeaces first sustainable seafood rankings in 2008. Back then, every single one of the twenty retailers failed. Its a real testament to progress that out of the 26 grocery stores we evaluated in 2014, four were ranked good, the majority made passing marks, and only four flunked.

Check out the 2014 “Carting Away the Oceans” report here.

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