I think of Target as an affordable source of common household items, but when I’ve visited my local Target, I’ve never really considered going there for the sole purpose of purchasing fish. Surprisingly, it turns out that Target is actually one of the best sources for sustainable seafood products.
Back in 2011, Target set the incredibly ambitious goal of selling only sustainable or traceable fresh and frozen seafood by the end of 2015. Although it’s coming a year later than planned, Target now offers 100% sustainable seafood in its own brands, and 97% of company’s entire seafood assortment, with the remaining 3% of products set to meet compliance by the end of 2016.
Target’s Responsible Seafood Commitment
For any business, achieving this level of sustainability would be a monumental accomplishment. The sources of fish and shellfish from sustainable-rated fishing and aquaculture operations are massively outnumbered by unrated and outright unsustainable sources. For such a large retailer like Target to be able to meet this challenging prospect in all of their stores is slightly mind-boggling and more than worthy of a solid cheer. On the practical side, Bay Area seafood vendors can use Target’s achievement as inspiration to renew their commitment to sustainability and as a guide to taking further steps.
Target certainly didn’t do it alone–they had a strategic partnership with the consultancy firm FishWise, which put them in touch with sustainable seafood industries and used the color-coded rating system of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program as their guide. They kept to a strict, ambitious timeline and regularly checked in on their progress level, making the hard decisions and investing in time-consuming changes to operations. They made efforts to connect positively with the seafood community and actively shift their business away from fisheries and aquaculture farms that were not ready to meet their criteria, and towards industries that sourced seafood responsibly.
What Does This Mean for the Bay Area Seafood Industry?
By offering sustainable seafood products, you are part of the movement towards healthier oceans and happier customers. One hundred percent sustainability means you take the guesswork away for your customers–they can trust your entire seafood selection is ocean-friendly. In an age where consumers have to rely on pocket guides and apps to navigate seafood sustainability, they will love just being able to walk up to your seafood counter and be able to purchase any item with the confidence that they are supporting responsible fishing and aquaculture.
Getting to this point can be tricky, but we can use Target’s model as inspiration and even as a practical guideline. Here are some ways to make the process of offering only sustainable seafood smoother and easier:
- Hire a consultancy firm like FishWise. This a huge step, and may of course be financially difficult for some small businesses, but consider how much 100% sustainability has the potential to boost sales! Trends are showing that increasing numbers of consumers are purchasing seafood with sustainable labels, especially here in the Bay Area, where our customers care intensely about health and the environment.
- Create a structured plan with specific goals.
- Know exactly where you want to be in one year, two years, five years–if you’re aiming for 100% sustainability, set the exact date you want to reach that goal.
- Keep track of your progress and have regular check-ins–don’t let it go unnoticed if you only hit 55% sustainability in December instead of 65%.
- Celebrate the victories! Every small step is a step in the right direction.
- Let your customers know your goals. Your customers will appreciate the time and effort your store is putting forth and they’ll be rooting for you.
- Make positive connections in the seafood community. Let others know what you’re doing and establish a good relationship with local distributors and vendors.
- Use ratings from Seafood Watch and the Marine Stewardship Council to help guide your efforts. Follow up by making certain your seafood is traceable back to its source. This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to sell a product as sustainable when it has actually been mislabeled or advertised incorrectly.
Most of all, know that it will take time, depending on where your business is already; achieving a high level of sustainability won’t happen overnight. Keep in mind that you are doing all the hard work so that your customers don’t have to!
100% Is Achievable
Maybe it seems like an easy goal for your business, or perhaps it looks impossible, but if a large corporate business like Target can do, then trust us–you can too! There are so many positive benefits from 100% sustainability–for the ocean, your customers, and your business. Commit today and order your fresh, sustainable seafood from Pucci Foods. We care about the health of the ocean, and are Marine Stewardship Council certified. We also source our sustainable seafood locally from California when possible. Contact us today.