Whole Foods Vows To Carry Sustainable Seafod – In 2013

From KGW News: Whole Foods Market has unveiled a fresh seafood ratings program, which will give clear indication of the sustainability of the seafood they carry, by a series of green, yellow, grey or red tags.

The program is based on the “Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch”, a widely respected system for rating the sustainability of different types of seafood. .

  • A green rating indicates the fish is abundant and caught in environmentally friendly ways.
  • The yellow tag means there are concerns with the way the fish are caught orĀ  that there is concern with possible overfishing.
  • Grey means the item has not yet been rated.
  • The red tag means the species is “presently caught by methods that harm other marine life or the environment.

I think this is a great program, and would love to see it adopted by other retailers. However, there is one interesting wrinkle: Whole Foods will stop carrying red-tagged fish in 2013.


Isn’t this like saying, “I see your house is burning, so I’ll call the fire department in a few weeks”?

Here is the KGW News video:

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. Pearl District says

    I think this is commendable and realistic. Whole Foods is not a giant corporation compared with Safeway or Walmart, but they’re pretty damn big. I imagine that a ship that size is pretty tough to turn quickly so this seems pretty realistic to do it two years and some months out. Think of all the sourcing and buying they must do and how they must reinvent their entire supply chain in order to make this happen. It’s not the same thing as some small restaurant saying they’re going sustainable.

    And think of how such a move will change the market when you have such a big player dedicated to sustainability. Kind of silly to dog them for this.

    • Food Dude says

      If they have enough information to put on a red tag, they have enough information to remove the product. Simple as that. It’s not a matter of “reinventing their supply chain”, it’s not ordering certain seafood. They seem to rotate other products on and off the shelves quickly enough. The fact they are not a “giant corporation” makes it even worse.

        • Pearl District says

          What Pollo says…

          I agree that the red tags are kind of a weird and silly pr move, but it really is difficult to change supply chain/contracts/sourcing when you have hundreds of stores. It really isn’t as “simple as that” as you say. There are arrangements in place that don’t just go away when you want them to.

  2. dj says

    This is a hilarious PR move by Whole Foods as if they pioneered this concept. New Seasons has been doing this in Portland since 2006 and most WF shoppers probably also shop at NS, so in Portland at least this shouldn’t come off as new or innovative. Shame on WF for not giving credit to NS for coming up with a great idea they wanted to adopt and roll out nationally. But I do give props to WF for giving the consumer more information about what they’re buying.

  3. CO says

    I guess I will continue to just get all my red-tagged deliciousness at Hmart, Uwajimaya, Fubon, OM Seafood, etc.,

    Honestly, I really doubt this affects more than about 5% of the seafood buying public in Portland. Why would I buy something at WF when I can get it fresher and for half the cost at any of the above named stores? when these places start tagging their fish with sustainability stickers like green starred sneetches, then maybe something meaningful(if you feel this movement has meaning) will take place.

  4. ilikeyournewhaircut says

    Whole Foods is the Wal-mart of organic grocers. It doesn’t surprise me to know they’re greenwashing red seafood. As several other commenters pointed out, don’t buy it and it will go away.

  5. sustainability_is_not_hype says

    At least whole foods agreed to stop selling endangered species. When will new seasons agree to stop selling monk fish and chilean sea bass?

    • CO says

      my guess is immediately after their customers stop buying it. Why is it the businesses responsibility to FORCE so called “responsible eating” on it’s customers. It really grinds my gears when everyone wants to exert their personal morality on others.

      be the change you want to see in the world + live and let live.

  6. GObi says

    I think this is pretty ridiculous for WF and NS. Neither of them really give a damn about the sustainability of the seafood they sell. If NS (or WF in 2013) was truly concerned about selling yellow or red tagged seafood- then they would pull them from the shelfs. The problem is they are reallyconcerned about making a buck – so they leave them there – in essence saying “you are a terrible person for buying this non sustainable seafood item – but – if you really want it – we’ll sell it to you anyway.” Its all about marketing – not about sustainability.

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