Major grocery chains failing when it comes to seafood labelling: watchdog

SeaChoice, the retail seafood industry watchdog group, has released its annual report into how the major grocery chains in Canada are performing in terms of seafood sustainability and social responsibility.

It has found that, while there have been significant improvements for some chains since last year’s report, there are still major gaps when it comes to the information about seafood products available to shoppers.

The annual report, Seafood Progress, looks at eight major chains, scoring them out of 100 based on the commitments they’ve made, and how well they’ve managed to stick to them:

  • 90 – meter
  • 83 – Loblaw
  • 76 – Buy-Low Foods
  • 67 – Costco
  • 64 – Co-op (FCL)
  • 64 – Save-On-Foods
  • 64-Walmart
  • 57 – Sobey’s

The greatest improvement in score was seen by Costco, with a nearly 50 per cent increase from the 2021 report. The dramatic improvement is due to the fact that the company engaged with SeaChoice for the first time in 2022, providing the organization with information for a more thorough review, after being the lone hold-out in previous years.

Save-On-Foods also saw an improvement, according to Dana Cleavely, SeaChoice supply chain analyst. Cleavely credits that to the chain’s commitment to trace supply chain from the source by the end of next year.

She noted, however, that more than half the chains — with the exception of Loblaw, Metro and Co-op — made commitments to sustainability that only covered some of the products they sell, typically the in-house brands.

Cleavely also said the stores have not done great when it comes to identifying human rights abuses in their supply chains.

“Across the board, that’s an area that’s pretty weak, and needs attention, as well as labeling — and that goes for brands and grocers.

“We are not seeing information on labels that should be there,” she said, adding that Buy-Low Foods and Metro included all the information they should on their labels.

According to Cleavely, information like whether a product is farmed or wild, where it’s harvested and how — are all being collected by businesses, but often not shared with consumers.

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