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Target Eliminates Farmed Salmon from All Target Stores

“We have no doubt that the leadership by Target will set a new standard for the seafood industry; one we hope is echoed by other retailers.”

Last week Nova Scotia’s Ecology Action Centre named Cooke Aquaculture the worst environmental violator of the year.

The centre has given Cooke its Tarred Duck Award for its open-pen salmon farming, slamming the company for not investing in secure closed-containment systems.

We’ve also seen that farmed salmon infected with the ISA virus that ravaged Cooke’s operations can end up on our plate, even though it’s deadly for salmon. The disposal of infected salmon includes slaughter for human consumption because the virus is not considered a food safety concern for humans, according to a Canadian Food Inspection Agency spokesman.

But we’ve also learned that while salmon infected with the ISA virus have not been proven unfit for human consumption, they have NOT been proven safe either. This food safety issue, in addition to the well-known environmental problems with open-pen salmon farms, is already spawning salmon sourcing changes in the food retail industry.

Here’s an example. Minneapolis-based Target Corporation’s  subsidiary, Target® Canada Co., announced that in 2013 it will open more than 100 retail stores in Canada, including four in Nova Scotia.

The retail giant that calls its customers “guests” gives 5 percent of its income through community grants and programs, sells designer goods at reasonable prices, and is committed to corporate responsibility. The result is that American guests are fiercely loyal!

In 2010 Target announced elimination of all farmed salmon from its fresh, frozen, and smoked seafood offerings in Target stores nationwide.

Target took this important step to ensure that its salmon offerings are sourced in a sustainable way that helps to preserve abundance, species health and doesn’t harm local habitats.

Many salmon farms impact the environment in numerous ways – pollution, chemicals, parasites and non-native farmed fish that escape from salmon farms all affect the natural habitat and the native salmon in the surrounding areas. Wild-caught salmon from Alaska is certified as sustainable to the standard of the Marine Stewardship Council. Alaskan salmon is among the most intensively managed species in the world, with excellent monitoring of both the fish populations and the fishery.

“Greenpeace applauds Target's decision to replace farmed salmon with wild Alaskan salmon, a relatively sustainable and healthy product, throughout its operations,” said Casson Trenor, Greenpeace’s senior markets campaigner. “The company’s decision to address this issue represents an incredible willingness to challenge old paradigms in favor of sound science and environmental preservation, as well as provide real market value to its guests. We have no doubt that the leadership by Target will set a new standard for the seafood industry; one we hope is echoed by other retailers.”

Speaking of other retailers, Sobeys Inc. and Target® Canada Co. announced last September they have entered into a long-term wholesale distribution arrangement that will see Sobeys supply Target stores in Canada with select food and grocery products.

Beginning in early 2013, Sobeys will supply Target’s food and grocery requirements for frozen, dairy, and dry grocery products, inclusive of both national brand and Target’s private label brands.

“We are pleased to welcome Target as a valued wholesale customer. The associated increased revenue, and the supply chain efficiencies which will lower our costs, will continue to strengthen our competitive position,” said Bill McEwan, then President & CEO, Sobeys Inc.

“Target is excited to be working with a partner like Sobeys. We look forward to building a strong relationship that creates value across both companies for a long time to come,” said Tony Fisher, President, Target Canada.

Through its coast-to-coast network of 23 food distribution centres, Sobeys will be able to provide the same high level of service to Target’s store network as it does to its own network of 1,300 stores across the country. The two companies have also agreed to leverage each other’s distribution networks to mutually reduce transportation expenses.

Here’s hoping that Target’s corporate responsibility lead will prompt Sobeys and other retailers to adopt responsible salmon sourcing policies.

I also hope that our provincial NDP government considers our people before the aquaculture industry in its governance of Nova Scotia. Minister Sterling Belliveau seems determined to sink the entire NDP party in our next election, but there may be still time to save some MLAs if they don’t jump ship first. 

As you can see, I’m an optimist. Meanwhile, no farmed salmon will land on my plate!  Yours?


About Sobeys Inc.

Sobeys Inc. is a leading national grocery retailer and food distributor headquartered in Stellarton, Nova Scotia. A wholly-owned subsidiary of Empire Company Limited (TSX:EMP.A), Sobeys owns or franchises more than 1,300 stores in all 10 provinces under retail banners that include Sobeys, IGA, Foodland, FreshCo, Price Chopper and Thrifty Foods, as well as Lawtons Drug Stores. Sobeys Inc. is committed to providing the most worthwhile experience for its customers, employees, franchisees, suppliers and shareholders. More information on Sobeys Inc. can be found at www.sobeyscorporate.com .

About Target

Minneapolis-based Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) serves guests at 1,762 stores across the United States and at Target.com. The Company will open its first stores in Canada in 2013. In addition, the company operates a credit card segment that offers branded proprietary credit card products. Since 1946, Target has given 5 percent of its income through community grants and programs; today, that giving equals more than $3 million a week. For more information about Target’s commitment to corporate responsibility, visit Target.com/hereforgood .

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