- Full-service sushi bar and restaurant provider SnowFox is partnering with Colorado-based nonprofit FishChoice to ensure its seafood meets the sustainability commitments for its retail customers including Costco, Albertsons and Kroger, according to a press release.
- Based in Houston, SnowFox supplies product to over 4,000 locations in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., including supermarkets, airports, universities and sushi bar chains.
- FishChoice offers a free database with over 600 suppliers from 20 countries that includes seafood sourcing details for over 500 species of seafood. SnowFox will utilize the database to identify sustainable seafood products.
Sushi is a staple for grocery stores' grab-and-go offerings, and SnowFox is a powerhouse in the industry. The company, which was acquired in July, estimates the U.S. grocery market for sushi is worth more than $1 billion.
Seafood overall is a big sales driver for grocers. Shopper baskets tend to triple in value when seafood is in the cart, according to the Food Marketing Institute’s Power of Seafood report. Unlike other meat and poultry categories, seafood shoppers are more discriminating in their selections and more likely to purchase seafood based on quality than price, even if it means making a trip to a different grocery store.
Retailers have shifted focus to sustainable seafood in response to growing consumer concern over how aquaculture impacts ocean health. A 2018 consumer survey from the Marine Stewardship Council revealed that 70% of consumers would like to know more about the sustainability of the seafood they buy, while 72% agreed people need to consume more sustainable seafood to save the oceans.
But sourcing sustainable seafood is a challenging endeavor. The seafood supply chain is rife with issues like fish fraud, where cheap fish is processed and passed off as more expensive cuts, and traceability is difficult due to the long and complex global supply chain. Some reports have also highlighted the pervasive use of slave labor to catch seafood. SnowFox’s partnership with FishChoice outsources the hefty task of vetting seafood suppliers, allowing the company to focus on strengthening its clientele.
Greenpeace provides an annual ranking of grocers when it comes to sustainable seafood. Last year, Albertsons ranked 7th while Kroger came in at 11th. Costco came in 15th with praise for its public sustainability policy and for improving slightly compared to prior years. It was downgraded, however, for not marking fish clearly to allow customers to evaluate each offering, for selling Chilean sea bass, and for dropping its sustainable private label canned tuna.