Sodexo, Inc. announced a comprehensive, industry leading Sustainable Seafood Initiative, including a commitment to have 100 percent of its contracted fresh and frozen seafood certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) by 2015.
Sodexo's Sustainable Seafood Initiative is part of Sodexo's Better Tomorrow Plan, the company's global roadmap for sustainability. The commitment to source sustainable seafood is one of 14 Better Tomorrow commitments to the environment, health and wellness, and support for local communities.
"Sodexo touches the lives of over 10 million people daily," said Ann Oka, senior vice president, supply management in a prepared statement. "When we implemented the Better Tomorrow Plan we knew we had the ability to affect not only our sustainable seafood policies but to educate and influence clients and consumers about the impact of their choices. We believe our Sustainable Seafood Initiative is unparalleled and can truly make a positive impact on the health of the world's oceans and fisheries, as well as providing consumers a better choice in seafood."
Sodexo's Sustainable Seafood Initiative, "Your Better Choice in Seafood," will have a significant effect volumetrically on reducing the amount of unsustainable seafood in the food service industry and help to positively influence consumer buying and behavioral change. Teaming with the Marine Stewardship Council and the Global Aquaculture Alliance, Sodexo will review all wild caught and farm raised seafood purchases and help identify the sustainability of its seafood supply. Short, medium and long term goals will be set with contracted seafood vendors to source and sell certified sustainable seafood to meet the 2015 goal.
In addition, Sodexo is partnering with the following companies and specialists to provide customers with the assurance of excellence for environmental responsibility and accountability in seafood.
NSF Surefish, the only non-government seafood specialist in North America, provides independent, third-party seafood product inspections and facility auditing services, including the ability to issue a Marine Stewardship Council Chain of Custody certification and perform audits against the Best Aquaculture Practice (BAP) standards developed by the Global Aquaculture Alliance.
CleanFish, is an industry leader in bringing together eco-friendly artisan producers – both fisherman and farmers – and then championing their fresh products in the marketplace under traceable, transparent brands. CleanFish was named "Responsibility Pioneer" by TIME magazine and was a recipient of Food & Wine magazine's "Eco-Ocean Award." "By setting these ambitious goals, Sodexo generates a greater demand for seafood from sources that protect the oceans' ecosystems – an action that is good for people and good for our planet," says Tim Matz, president of CleanFish.
Koch Foods, an industry leader in foodservice sales and marketing is assisting Sodexo with program activation with their customers. Koch Food's field sales and broker network recently convened an extensive training session in Chicago with the goal of providing unparalleled customer service and support to Sodexo units.
The importance of Sodexo's commitment to sustainable seafood is even greater in light of current industry news. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization report "The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2010," worldwide consumption of seafood is at an all-time high with 115 million tons consumed globally in 2008. Growth in seafood consumption will continue to be fueled by emerging culinary trends. Sustainable seafood was recently identified as one of the top 10 menu trends in the National Restaurant Association's "What's Hot in 2011" survey of more than 1,500 professional chefs, and the new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage all Americans to eat seafood at least twice a week for its heart and brain benefits.
Increased demand is severely challenging our oceans. Seven of the top ten marine fisheries are now fully exploited or overexploited due to fishing and seafood farming practices that harm marine habitats and seafood supplies.
"The effort within the seafood industry to turn around overfishing, and protect seafood as a critical renewable resource, has the potential to be one of the greatest ecological success stories of our time," said Kerry Coughlin, Regional Director, Americas of the Marine Stewardship Council. "There are fisheries around the world operating sustainably, but a significant number still lack the impetus, commitment or scientific data needed to change. By taking a leadership role in creating a better environment through 100 percent contracted sustainable seafood sourcing, Sodexo will actively help to accelerate a global shift to sustainable fishing practices."