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Wegmans Gets Best Score On U.S Seafood Sustainability Chart – Beats Walmart

In the third edition of Greenpeace’s seafood sustainability scorecard – Carting Away the Oceans – Greenpeace is seeing signs of progress in the supermarket industry. Many leading grocery store chains have begun increasing the sustainability of their seafood operations. Retail chain Wegmans got the best score and Walmart did not get further than the 7th position – despite its much publicized policy on sustainable seafood, Whole Foods lost its poll position.

While many supermarkets began to feel the pressure of their customers and the public to do the right thing and be better stewards for the ocean environment, just as many grocery stores continue to ignore both the public and scientific warnings. These pathetic stores remain at the bottom of the scoring, where they belong!
The supermarket chain Wegmans received top ranking followed by Ahold USA, while Whole Foods dropped to third place from its December 2008 first place ranking. Trader Joe’s remains ranked at #17, the worst ranking of the national supermarket chains surveyed. Three regional chains ranked at the bottom.

Greenpeace continues to rank supermarkets in an effort to move supermarkets to sell sustainable fish. Greenpeace believes that stores will do the right thing once this problem is made clear. Several stores have already begun to develop sustainable seafood procurement policies and/or have removed from sale species. It is a sign that some supermarkets are making progress and that others will join the effort soon.

As you can see, Greenpeace does not grade on a curve. None of the supermarkets have yet to achieve a "Good" rating. But at least several passed, and none have gotten worse. With so few supermarket chains caring about seafood sustainability, why has Wegmans taken steps towards this goal?

According to Colleluori, Wegmans has long been concerned with sustainability. Greenpeace's rankings simply gave the supermarket an opportunity have a dialogue with a prominent environmental group and focus its efforts. When her company considers sustainability issues, they have a three-pronged approach:

1. How it affects customers

2. How it affects the environment/planet3. How it affects the company
That means if a really wacky sustainability imitative was being pushed by an environmental group that couldn't possibly be profitable, Wegmans would balk. Although she could not cite any specific statistics, she indicated that this particular initiative has not had a negative effect on the company.

You might think that observing this practice would increase their seafood prices. If it has, Colleluori indicated that Wegmans has not noticed. She could not attribute any decrease in demand to the initiative. If anything, when it comes to seafood sustainability, they've found that consumer demand supports the initiative. Their customers notice. She said:

We have put our sustainable seafood sourcing philosophy on a poster in all our stores. We also have our sustainable seafood product chart on another poster in all of our stores.

They also train their employees to be educated on the issue so they can have conversations with customers about it. She added:

Our store employees hear from our customers that they appreciate our efforts.

I used to go to a Wegmans located in the town where I went to college and thought it was a great supermarket. It's good to hear that such initiatives can be relatively profit-neutral for companies that decide to make such changes.

As consumers continue to care more about environmental issues, I would expect that they will also be willing to pay a little more for products that adhere to certain environmental standards. The supermarkets at the bottom of the list probably have yet to feel any significant decrease in their customer bases due to a backlash from environmentally conscious consumers. But unless consumer sentiment about environmental concerns reverses direction, they might feel it before long.