Minnesota-based Target Corporation announced on Jan. 26 that all of its stores would discontinue the sale of farmed salmon goods due to the detrimental environmental impact of salmon farming. Instead, the company will replace farmed salmon with wild Alaskan salmon, which is considered to be more healthy and sustainable.
“Target strives to be a responsible steward of the environment, while also providing our guests with the highest-quality food choices,” said Greg Duppler, Target senior vice president in a press release. “Our guests now have an array of sustainable seafood choices at great prices.”
While aquaculture may be a future trend for the seafood industry, various types, such as conventional open-net salmon farming, create harmful effects on the environment. Salmon farming puts the marine ecosystem in jeopardy of parasite infestations, the unrestrained spread of genetic matter and gathering of fish waste.
In an effort to successfully enforce their new policy and modify their salmon products, Target has been working with Julie Packard, executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
“Target’s decision to source sustainable wild-caught salmon, instead of farmed, will have a real impact in the marketplace – and ultimately, on the health of our oceans,” Packard told The LA Times.
Greenpeace, an independent global campaigning organization for environmental protection and conservation, also celebrates Target’s move toward supporting ocean conservation and providing environmentally friendly products.
According to Greenpeace’s sustainable seafood guide “Carting Away the Oceans,” Target is one of 20 seafood retailers listed. As of June 2009, Target was ranked in fourth place among major retailers enforcing sustainable seafood policies.
“I think that [Target] recognized an opportunity, and they were savvy enough to grab it,” said Casson Trenor, Senior Markets Campaigner with Greenpeace USA. “Target’s number one competitor is Walmart. They see it as: a) They can differentiate themselves from their biggest competitor; b) They can invest in social awareness; c) They are giving consumers a healthier option, and d) They gain a lot of great press.”
After Target’s decision to ban farmed salmon, Whole Foods announced they believed all of their farmed seafood products provided a healthy and high-quality source of protein for customers. The company’s farmed salmon also remains free from antibiotics or added preservatives like sodium bisulfite or sodium tri-polyphosphate.
Though Whole Foods requires their producers to minimize the damage fish farming has on the local wetlands and habitats, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, which aims to helps consumers and businesses make choices for buying seafood from sustainable sources, recommends farmed salmon be avoided.
Currently, nine of the 20 largest supermarket companies in the U.S. have not taken action in implementing more sustainable seafood markets. These companies include Costco, Price Chopper, Trader Joe’s and Winn Dixie. Though working to employ more sustainable seafood, most of the companies continue to sell some of the most endangered species like orange roughy, swordfish and Chilean seabass.
Target plans to rid out all of its farmed salmon products by the end of 2010. This enforcement will apply to national brands and Target’s own Archer Farms and Market Pantry.
“What Target did is something that the grocery industry said again and again could never be done,” Trenor said. “This super solid ground that supermarkets were standing on is a lot shakier. We are going to see a lot more changes toward sustainability, with a larger and larger market share where you can buy sustainable seafood.”
SAMANTHA BOSIO can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.