Wegmans: Buying Better Shrimp
In 2006, we concluded a two-year partnership with Wegmans, a family-owned grocery chain, that focused on environmentally preferable salmon. Brisk sales prompted the company to take a look at other seafood.
With that inspiration, our attention turned to the most popular seafood in the U.S. -- shrimp. U.S. shrimp imports in 2006 totaled $4.1B, nearly one-third of all seafood imports. Among other concerns, shrimp farming is often criticized for contaminating local habitats and converting wetlands to shrimp farms. U.S shrimp farms are held to stricter standards than many farms around the world and have made notable progress in recent years. But in Asia and Latin America, where much of our shrimp is raised, environmental regulations are sometimes lax and often not enforced.
In 2007 we teamed up with Wegmans a second time, to develop standards for farmed shrimp.
The new standards require farmed shrimp producers to:
- Eliminate the use of antibiotics and other chemicals,
- Avoid damaging sensitive wetland habitats,
- Properly treat waste water
- 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.
- The farmed shrimp now sold at Wegmans' seafood counter are produced in compliance with the new purchase policy.
- Wegmans is encouraging their other farmed shrimp suppliers, who provide the store with shrimp for its freezer case, to review the standards and begin working towards compliance.
By demonstrating both the environmental and business benefits of comprehensive environmental standards for farmed shrimp production, the policy will be a model for the industry.