Hy-Vee Rolls Out Seafood Supplier Code of Conduct

Initiative bolsters grocer’s pledge to carry sustainable Responsible Choice product
Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
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Hy-Vee Rolls Out Seafood Supplier Code of Conduct
Hy-Vee has pledged to work with seafood suppliers that share its beliefs in quality products, environmental responsibility and fair labor practices.

Hy-Vee Inc. has doubled down on its commitment to environmentally and socially responsible seafood by adopting a Seafood Supplier Code of Conduct (SCoC), joining a growing number of retailers dedicated to protecting human and labor rights in its supply chains.

The grocer has pledged to work with seafood suppliers that share its beliefs in quality products, environmental responsibility and fair labor practices. The labor expectations in the SCoC are in alignment with international norms, standards and best practices, among them the United Nations (UN) Global Compact, International Labor Organization (ILO) International Labor Standards, and Verité Responsible Sourcing Tool Sample Code of Conduct Provisions for Seafood Supply Chains.

The SCoC was created to ensure that Hy-Vee’s suppliers enforce safe working conditions; that workers in the grocer’s seafood supply chains are treated with respect and dignity; and that seafood harvesting and production processes are legal and transparent. Since it was adopted this past January, 100% of Hy-Vee’s active seafood suppliers have signed on to the SCoC.

“Hy-Vee is committed to advancing social responsibility in our seafood supply chains, and this new code of conduct is an articulation of our company values and commitments that we believe align with our customers' expectations,” noted Jason Pride, the company’s VP of meat and seafood. “This sends a clear message to all our suppliers of the standards and expectations we have for doing business together.”

Based on the results of a supplier social responsibility assessment conducted in 2020, many of Hy-Vee’s seafood suppliers already had strong policies and practices in place, including human and labor rights codes of conducts, regular human rights risk assessments and social audits, and worker grievance mechanisms. Hy-Vee aims to support the work already being done by suppliers and improve social responsibility efforts where needed.

The company also has its own U.S. Department of Commerce lot inspector to ensure the quality, safety and integrity of the fresh seafood it buys from suppliers. Working at Hy-Vee’s Perishable Distributors of Iowa distribution facility in Ankeny, Iowa, the inspector regularly checks incoming shipments of fresh and frozen seafood to make sure that they meet the grocer’s standards.

The SCoC is Hy-Vee’s latest effort to create an increasingly comprehensive seafood sustainability program that places equal emphasis on the protection of workers’ rights and environmental sustainability. The grocer has worked with Santa Cruz, Calif.-based FishWise, a nonprofit sustainable seafood consultancy, on this program.

Employee-owned Hy-Vee has a team of more than 86,000 employees and operates more than 285 retail stores across eight Midwestern states, with sales of $12 billion annually and more than 91,000 employees. The West Des Moines, Iowa-based company is No. 34 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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