FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Julie Huddleston, Environmental Defense, (202) 572-3369
Jeanne Colleluori, Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., (585) 328-2550 x-5926
(Rochester, NY - October 29, 2007) Wegmans Food Markets, one of the country’s most innovative food retailers, and Environmental Defense, a leading national environmental advocacy organization, today announced a first-of-its-kind purchasing policy for farmed shrimp. Wegmans will be rolling out shrimp purchased under this policy in all of its 71 stores. The policy, which includes comprehensive and rigorous environmental standards, sets a new bar for the seafood industry and other U.S. retailers.
Shrimp accounts for around 25% of all seafood consumed in the U.S.every year. Annually, Americans consume over 1.3 billion pounds of shrimp, nearly three quarters of which is farmed. Retailers that adopt these new purchasing standards will help mitigate the environmental concerns raised by farming shrimp.
“Wegmans has always been committed to providing our customers with products that set a high standard for food quality, and we pride ourselves on thinking innovatively about how we purchase food in an environmentally responsible way,” said Carl Salamone, Vice President of Seafood for Wegmans. “In 2006 we introduced Farmed King Salmon raised under environmental standards developed by Environmental Defense. Today’s announcement about Farmed Shrimp from Belize is an expansion of our efforts to offer seafood that meets the toughest health and environmental standards.”
The new purchasing standards require farmed shrimp producers to eliminate the use of antibiotics and other chemicals, avoid damaging sensitive habitats, treat their waste water and reduce the use of wild fish to feed shrimp. Suppliers will be able to demonstrate their compliance with these standards by meeting aggressive performance targets and implementing an auditing and reporting system to monitor progress.
“Companies like Wegmans have the market clout to transform their supplier's environmental practices. With these new purchasing standards, we've raised the bar for farmed shrimp production while continuing to provide a healthy seafood option for Wegmans' customers,” said Gwen Ruta, Environmental Defense’s Director of Corporate Partnerships. “Now it's time for other large seafood buyers to flex their purchasing muscle and make the same improvements in their supply chain.”
Wegmans and Environmental Defense developed this purchasing policy in cooperation with Wegmans’ farmed shrimp supplier. The policy requires that suppliers immediately meet at least nine of the purchasing standards, including strict standards for levels of PCBs and other contaminants, and comply with local laws. Suppliers must meet all 12 standards within one year.
Farmed shrimp produced in compliance with this policy will earn a “best choice” ranking according to the criteria used by the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Program and Environmental Defense. These criteria are used to rank seafood identified in Environmental Defense's Seafood Selector, a guide to fish choices that are good for you and the ocean (www.environmentaldefense.org/seafood). Wegmans plans to build on this initiative by working with all of the retailer’s aquaculture suppliers to meet similar standards.
The standards can be reviewed at www.environmentaldefense.org/shrimp.