economics

February 18, 2010

Target goes wild for salmon

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 5:42 am
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By Jonathan Birchall in New York

Published: January 26 2010 20:09 | Last updated: January 26 2010 20:09

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// ]]>Target, the US mass discounter, has become the first leading US food retailer to stop selling farmed salmon in its stores, citing the negative impact of salmon farming on the environment.

The retailer said on Tuesday that its own brand fresh, frozen and smoked salmon will now be wild-caught from Alaskan fisheries, “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”

The move reflects concern among environmentalists over the impact of intensive salmon farming, which has expanded dramatically over the past 30 years to provide about three quarters of all fresh and frozen salmon consumed in the US.

The availability of low cost farmed salmon has also undermined wild salmon fishing, with the value of last year’s catch in Alaska of $230m being worth less than half of the value of annual catches in the late 1980s.

Target’s move was welcomed by Greenpeace USA, the environmental group. Greenpeace launched a campaign in 2008 to pressure US retailers to adopt more sustainable seafood buying practices.

The group argues that the salmon farming industry causes an unacceptable level of environmental contamination and other damage.

Casson Trenor, the Greenpeace campaigner who was part of discussions with Target, said retailers have generally argued that they need to use farmed salmon to meet demand for affordable fish that is available all year round.

“They are aiming at pricepoints around $6.99 and $7.99 a pound. So for them to do it, it is a huge gauntlet thrown down to other retailers.”

Salmon of the Americas, an industry group representing salmon farmers in the US, Canada and Chile, has in the past accused Greenpeace of misrepresenting the environmental impact of salmon farming. Last year it dismissed Greenpeace’s campaign efforts as being “geared towards misleading the public away from healthy protein alternatives:”

Target does not say how much salmon it sells, but frozen or fresh salmon products are available in around 1,500 of its 1,700 stores.

Mr Trenor acknowledged it would not be possible to meet current levels of demand for salmon exclusively from wild fisheries, but argues that an increase in demand for wild-caught salmon would support the development of fisheries, while higher prices would eventually pushing down demand to sustainable levels.

Leading US retailers including Target’s rival Wal-mart and Whole Foods, the natural and organic supermarket, have started paying more attention to sustainability of sea-food purchasing over the past few years. Walmart plans to continue selling farmed fish, but has said it will eventually source all of its wild-caught sea food from fisheries certified as being “sustainable” by the Marine Stewardship Council.

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