Publix will soon disclose a list of all of the fisheries used to source its wild-caught seafood as part of an alliance with the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership and Ocean Disclosure project, according to Progressive Grocer. Publix is the first U.S.-based retailer to take on such an initiative.
Publix will also present information on the management, catch method and environmental impact of the wild-caught fish species it sells.
"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," director of Publix media and community relations Maria Brous told Progressive Grocer.
Consumer demand for transparency around the seafood space has grown in light of seafood fraud and reports that slave labor is used to harvest fish in certain parts of the world. Shoppers are also concerned about the quality of their seafood, as many are aware of the danger of high mercury levels in fish. But few know how to gauge what is safe.
Much of this confusion stems from a general lack of familiarity with the category. On average, shoppers have a much clearer understanding of pork, beef and poultry supply chains than they do seafood harvesting methods and sourcing. Seafood guides can provide answers to some of these questions, but many can be confusing and contradictory. Many grocery chains are trying to educate their shoppers about the fish they buy by providing in-store recipes and even cooking demonstrations, but none offer the level of transparency that Publix has promised.
The sprawling Florida-based retailer, which boasts 1,146 stores across Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina, is likely to spur other chains to support seafood sustainability, if only to remain competitive. Ethically and sustainably-sourced food products are top of mind for today's shopper, so it would be wise for grocers to follow Publix's lead.