Hy-Vee ranked fifth in its first appearance in Greenpeace’s Carting Away the Oceans: 2014 Rankings of Seafood Sustainability in U.S. Supermarkets.
“We were surprised at how well Hy-Vee preformed, by essentially rocketing to fifth place, which is a particularly impressive showing for a new entrant to the evaluations,” said James Mitchell, Greenpeace senior seafood campaigner.
Roundy’s, another newcomer, scored the lowest of the 26 retailers on the list, mainly because it lacks a formal seafood sustainability program.
The top four retailers this year were Whole Foods, Safeway, Wegmans and Trader Joe’s.
Although Kroger has recently touted its efforts on seafood sustainability, Greenpeace ranked the retailer 20th overall. For the third year in a row, Kroger sold the most products on the Red List, a set of 22 species that Greenpeace says shouldn’t be sold for environmental reasons.
“There’s certainly some retailers that performed worse than Kroger in the rankings — and we’re not trying to let those off the hook by any means — but it’s just the sheer scale of Kroger. It’s such a large retailer that any change it makes is far more significant than the ones that come behind it in the rankings,” said Mitchell.
One trend noted in the report is that several retailers are introducing more sustainable private label canned tuna, some for the first time. Hy-Vee, Safeway, Trader Joe’s, Walmart and Whole Foods all offer such products or plan to do so this summer.
These private label items are price competitive, so consumers don’t have to choose between low-cost and sustainable when shopping for seafood, Mitchell said.
“Americans consume more canned tuna than any other nation on Earth, so that’s a huge win area,” said Mitchell.
Greenpeace voiced concern that recent mergers and acquisitions in the retail sector could have a negative impact on seafood sustainability, given that Harris Teeter’s policies rank much higher than Kroger’s, and Safeway greatly outperforms Albertsons.