H-E-B and EDF Announce Sustainable Seafood Collaboration

August 13, 2014
Matthew Smelser, (202) 572-3272, msmelser@edf.org
Dya Campos, (210) 938-8075, campos.dya@heb.com

AUSTIN, Texas – August 13, 2014 – Building on its proven track record of responsibly sourced wild-caught and farm-raised seafood, H-E-B is partnering with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) as its primary sustainability advisor for seafood purchases in all of its H-E-B and Central Market stores.

H-E-B’s existing sustainability policy covers all fresh, frozen, and prepared seafood items sold in its stores. As an enhancement to that program, over the past year, H-E-B and EDF have worked closely with the retailer’s suppliers to improve sustainability in new fisheries and to source farmed seafood from domestic and international farms that meet international certification standards for environmental performance.

“A commitment to seafood sustainability has been a companywide practice at H-E-B for many years,” said H-E-B Director of Seafood Procurement Kyle Stevens. “And now, we can draw upon EDF’s enormous expertise and experience to build on the sustainable sourcing work that we’ve done to date, while continuing to offer the highest product quality to our customers.”

As part of its ongoing relationship with EDF, H-E-B has launched a new, sustainable seafood website and trained its fish market partners on the new standards. The website can be found here.

As part of its comprehensive sourcing policy, H-E-B continues its support of “catch shares” – a management tool used around the world that ensures commercial fishermen adhere to scientifically-set catch limits while lessening their impact on the marine environment and improving their businesses. H-E-B works closely with catch share fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico that are an international model for responsible, science-based management and deliver high quality seafood year round to its customers. Gulf of Mexico red snapper, once on the brink of collapse, has begun to successfully rebuild its populations since catch shares management was implemented in 2007.

“H-E-B is driving the demand for smart, sustainable fishing practices that will ensure all Texans continue to enjoy the wide variety of high-quality seafood they love year round,” said Heather Paffe, associate vice president, Oceans, EDF.

H-E-B is committed to full traceability systems for its seafood supply chain and was the first major retailer in the Gulf region to offer Gulf Wild® red snapper at many of its stores. The Gulf Wild® program (www.mygulfwild.com) provides real-time tracking of Gulf of Mexico fish beginning at the time it is caught, thereby ensuring the safety and authenticity of their wild-caught seafood. Traceability programs like this one are critical to preventing mislabeling and seafood fraud, problems that undermine the entire seafood industry.

“Through their commitment, H-E-B has demonstrated that sustainability, traceability and engagement with local fishermen are good business for the retail food industry,” said Tim Fitzgerald, senior manager for seafood market strategy, Oceans, EDF.

Beyond the Gulf of Mexico, H-E-B is actively engaged in a number of other efforts to advance seafood sustainability. H-E-B is an active member with the Food Marketing Institute’s Seafood Sustainability Working Group and the Sustainable Executive Committee, where it works cooperatively with other retailers to create industry-wide standards for seafood sourcing and customer communication.

H-E-B’s new partnership with EDF will build on these engagements and solidify the retailer’s reputation as a sustainable seafood leader in the industry.

“H-E-B is proud of our commitment to the environment; and our new partnership with EDF will ensure that we continue to offer Texans fresh, safe, responsible seafood through innovative programs that work with fishermen to achieve total sustainability,” said Stevens.

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Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF Voices, Twitter and Facebook.

H-E-B, with sales of more than $20 billion, operates more than 350 stores in Texas and Mexico. Known for its innovation and community service, H-E-B celebrated its 105 anniversary in 2010. Recognized for its fresh food, quality products, convenient services, and a commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability, H-E-B strives to provide the best customer experience at everyday low prices. Based in San Antonio, H-E-B employs more than 80,000 Partners and serves millions of customers in more than 150 communities.