SOUTH AFRICA – The changing attitude of consumers as they become concerned about the seafood they eat is creating strong incentives in the way retailers and suppliers procure supplies.
This is according to a report on the WWF-SA’s seafood sustainability initiative on retailer and supplier participation, released on Thursday. WWF-SA is the South African representative of the World Wide Fund For Nature.
The report spells out guidelines for retailers to follow in ensuring they sell seafood that comes from sustainable sources. WWF-SA examined 10 of the country’s major retailers, seafood restaurant franchises and seafood suppliers in a bid to encourage more sustainable practices.
The participants were: Breco Seafoods, Fruit & Veg City/Food Lover’s Market, I&J, John Dory’s, La Marina, Ocean Basket, Pick n Pay, the Spar Group, the Supapackers Group of Companies and Woolworths.
The report provides an overview of the state of these companies’ commitments to sourcing sustainable seafood. Together, they sell 183 seafood species obtained from 60 countries (including SA).
WWF-SA programme manager Chris Karsten said the report was not aimed at comparing the companies or developing an index to see which company had the best practices, but should be used as a means to see if they were improving their procurement practices.
He said companies used the WWF guidelines to improve the way they procured and marketed their produce to consumers.
“We are seeing consumers becoming more aware about what seafood they are willing to buy and where it comes from,” he said.
The companies that participated in the report were assessed several times. Retailers Pick n Pay and Woolworths had nine assessments each, while the others had from two to eight assessments.
The assessments covered issues such as companies’ commitments, progress made, the number of species traded, the volume and value of seafood traded, and companies’ experience in making the change to sustainable seafood.
Pick n Pay stated in its assessment that it had committed itself to transforming its fresh, frozen and canned seafood operation so that it sold only products that were sustainable or those from fisheries or fish farms that were working towards sustainability.
Woolworths said it had stopped selling Cape salmon in 2010 due to depleted stocks.
That year it had introduced random DNA testing of seafood products.
Retail group Spar had committed itself to aligning its retailers’ independent procurement to group policy.
Spar brand manager Judith Gale said because the group operated as a voluntary collection of about 800 retailers, it was difficult to determine where store owners got their seafood produce. “That’s why we are concentrating first on our private labels.”