Wegmans Food Markets and Environmental Defense 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.
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.
Wegmans and Environmental Defense developed the policy in cooperation with Wegmans' farmed shrimp supplier. It 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.
Shrimp accounts for 25% of all seafood consumed in the U.S. every year, about 1.3 billion pounds. Almost 75% is farm raised.
"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."
The standards can be reviewed at: