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Editor's Note: Imported farmed shrimp overlooked
By Fiona Robinson, Associate Publisher, Editor
March 01, 2010
Lost in last month's buzz about Target's decision to stop selling farmed salmon was a good-news flash about farmed shrimp. The Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program has endorsed imported, farmed shrimp from Contessa Premium Foods and ranked it as a "good alternative." Previously, the MBA recommended that seafood buyers avoid all imported shrimp. And ever since seafood buyers turned to the Seafood Watch list as a professional buying guide several years ago, the biggest problem has been shrimp. Not any more.
With the recent MBA endorsement, Contessa will be the exclusive supplier of sustainable shrimp for Compass and Foodbuy. This deal is huge: Compass Group North America is a leading foodservice and support-services company with $9.2 billion in revenue in 2009. Foodbuy, North America's largest group-purchasing company for high-volume multi-unit food operators, has $5 billion in purchasing volume and services 12,000 outlets. A lot of buyers are putting purchasing weight behind the sustainability of Contessa's product.
This should be a watershed moment for seafood buyers after waiting what seems like forever to get the green light to menu imported farmed shrimp. I've spent several years in seminars about sourcing sustainable seafood, only to listen to buyers make comments afterward about how they don't have an answer on the one menu item they need: imported farmed shrimp.
The timing of the MBA press release was unfortunate, since Target's announcement (see News Recap, p. 12) overshadowed the good news about imported shrimp. Maybe this example will serve as a lesson for not just other farmed shrimp suppliers but also farmed salmon suppliers to work directly with an organization like MBA on sustainability recommendations.
Years of negative farmed-salmon myths have gone unchallenged (see this issue's Point of View column by John Connelly of the National Fisheries Institute), and the truth about farmed salmon has yet to be told by the aquaculture industry. The door has opened for sustainability-minded buyers to menu imported farmed shrimp; now suppliers need to help them out with farmed salmon.