Activism Trader Joe's will offer sustainable seafood by the end of 2012.

Published on April 9th, 2010 | by Cindy Hoots

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Trader Joe’s Offers Sustainable Seafood Thanks to Greenpeace

Greenpeace successfully targets Trader Joe’s and convinces the supermarket chain to adopt sustainable seafood practices by the end of 2012.

[social_buttons] I have to admit the folks at Greenpeace are quite effective, resourceful, and clever. Most recently, the NGO challenged a popular supermarket chain known for its organic, healthy food offerings. Trader Joe’s has positioned itself as the “neighborhood grocery store” and an eco-friendly company. So why did Greenpeace target this “green” company with one of its campaigns? Greenpeace believed there was something fishy about Trader Joe’s seafood procurement practices. And the environmental activists were right.

Trader Joe’s was ranked 17th on Greenpeace’s most recent report ranking the nation’s top 20 retailers on their seafood sourcing policies… even Walmart scored higher. The Carting Away the Oceans report graded supermarkets on a number of categories, including policies around seafood sourcing, support for sustainable seafood initiatives, labeling of seafood, and removing red-list fish from its store shelves. According to Greenpeace, it spot-checked some Trader Joe’s stores and found the company was selling 15 of the 22 red-listed fish such as Chilean sea bass and orange roughy (Trader Joe’s claimed it stopped selling Chilean sea bass in 2005).

And so Greenpeace circled the wagons and began the “Traitor Joe’s – Your One-Stop Shop for Ocean Destruction” campaign. Very clever. The NGO went so far as to create an interactive, mock website based on the character of Traitor Joe. After months of radio ads and dressing up as orange roughys, Greenpeace declared victory. Trader Joe’s publicly announced to offer only sustainable seafood in its stores (fresh, frozen and canned) by December 31, 2012.

The company also committed to working with a third-party, science-based organization to provide accurate information on all seafood labels and to use its buying power to leverage change in the seafood industry.

Okay, if you are anything like me, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. How do I possibly keep track of all the red-list fish? Don’t fret! I found a great Seafood Watch Pocket Guide provided by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Download it and carry it with you to supermarkets and restaurants.

Only time will tell if Trader Joe’s moves up the Greenpeace rankings – hopefully, ahead of Walmart at the very least.

Sustainable sushi anyone?

Follow Cindy Tickle on Twitter @ethicalbiz
Image Credit: ingridjee via flickr under a CC license




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About the Author

With more than 10 years experience working for a major Fortune 500 company, Cindy specializes in socially and environmentally responsible business strategies. She has developed successful corporate communications and stakeholder engagement strategies on contentious sustainability issues and has worked with a number of NGOs and activist organizations on how to effectively partner with multinational companies. Cindy frequently writes about topics ranging from what is corporate social responsibility to sustainable supply chain and measuring a company's environmental impact. She believes business plays a vital role in the health of our communities and our planet.



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  • stephanie

    Hooray for Greenpeace, for Trader Joe’s, and most importantly for the “red-list” fish and their own well being. Great article! I am glad to see the link to the Seafood Watch Pocket Guide. Most folks need and want something easy and definable when they go shopping for their meals. Knowing that China (and others) are using machinery on the bottom of the ocean to bring up every possible living thing they can to sell as “edible” fish, I no longer eat anything that comes from the ocean. Made me sad to give up “coconut shrimp” but I am just fine without the little guys and I am sure they are happy that one less land dweller is after their tails!

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