Supermarket Perimeter - April 2020 - 47

Seafood

TRACEABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY across the food industry has
grown increasingly important in the past decade. In addition to general
dietary shifts, consumers in a 2020 world are demanding that the foods
they eat-whether that be meat, seafood or plant foods-are produced
sustainably and with transparency throughout the supply chain.
For seafood, this means consumers are seeking information beyond
simple source claims, and more like stories of the fishermen, producers and others along the path from sea to supermarket. In Alaska, for
example, the seafood industry is the state's largest private employer and
many harvesters and processors are generations-old family operations,
so those stories are easy to come by.
"The key to establishing a strong traceability program is committing
to tell the stories of those involved, starting with the very fishermen
who pulled in the catch," said Megan Rider, domestic marketing director
for the Juneau-based Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI). "To
demonstrate true transparency and traceability, retailers should have
a sense of who and what is involved at every step of the supply chain,
rather than just the most recent step before seafood arrives to its final
point-of-sale location."
Dan Lee, BAP standards coordinator for Portsmouth, New
Hampshire-based Global Aquaculture Alliance, notes for farmed
seafood, it's no longer simply about the origin of the product, it's also
about the origin of the feed, the feed ingredients and the impact of
producing the feed ingredients.
"It's all imperative," he said. "Good knowledge of the complex linkages
in supply chains, backed up by third-party certifications like BAP for
farmed seafood that mandate traceability is important."
Nina Damato, product director of Washington, D.C.-based Blue Circle
Foods, said providing seafood products with full traceability is of utmost
importance to the company.

"We work with a trusted network of family farmers and fishermen to
provide a really clean and nutritious product for families and all kinds of
consumers," she said. "For us, we really look to partner with folks who
not only share our sustainable mission but also are able to provide real
transparency and traceability."
For example, by working with family farmers who catch salmon, Blue
Circle Foods can trace back exactly how a product came to them and
eventually on to the shelf.
"We have full control of not only where it's sourced and how it's
sourced, but also the processing all the way through to the end consumer," Damato says. "We work with fisherman in the Maldives, so not
only is our product fair trade, but we're able to trace back the vessel to
the actual tuna that the portion came from. The Maldives has an unbelievable traceability program."

Taking Action
Earlier this year, the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability-created
seven years ago to discover ways to improve traceability in seafood-
released a set of basic technical standards to allow for interoperability
across seafood traceability platforms.
A spokesperson for the group notes this was done to allow global
seafood traceability more reliability and affordability for companies
throughout the supply chain.
In support of the idea, companies such as Whole Foods Market, The
Fishin' Co., Sainsbury's, New England Seafood and Orca Bay signed a
letter stressing the importance of these voluntary standards.
"Voluntary industry standards for traceability are urgently needed
to help companies ensure that the products they buy and sell come
from sources that are legal, sustainable and ethical," the letter said.
"Technologies and systems already exist that make it possible to trace
seafood products from 'boat to plate,' but they employ dozens (or even
hundreds) of different approaches that prevent systems from exchanging data efficiently. That is why our companies are helping lead the
GDST, bringing together more than five dozen companies from around
the world and across seafood supply chains to create the first-ever
global standards for seafood traceability."
Additionally, the letter explained how the GDST standards would
help companies do better business by defining the key data elements
that should accompany seafood products as they move through supply
chains, as well as design specifications that allow for seamless sharing
of digital information.
"Once broadly implemented across the industry, these standards will
facilitate trade and greatly increase the returns on investment as we
continue to modernize our traceability practices," the letter said. "These
global standards have the power to positively change how seafood
is bought and sold around the world, and our companies are already
starting to take action."

BLUE CIRCLE FOODS

Concerns of Customers
Transparency and traceability in seafood have evolved quite a bit in
recent years, as consumers have pushed supermarkets to make it more
Blue Circle Foods works with a trusted network of farmers and fishermen
to help ensure the heighest sustainability standards are met.
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