For me, fish and marine life is a virus I’ve had for as long as I remember. I’m a hobby fisher and diver; although not good at either of the two I’m afraid. Through my bio-engineering degree I’ve also had to chance to study a bit of marine biology and aquaculture. Yet beyond discovering the richness of those eco-systems, my interest goes to how those resources can be managed in an efficient way: for me a good plan has to rationally combine both sustainability and profitability. Now add a genuine passion for ‘just eating’ the products and communicating this fervour to other consumers, and you have a pretty obvious track to my position in a quality food company such as Delhaize!
Delhaize has historically been a trendsetter in terms of quality products in a broad sense, including sustainability. Therefore, establishing a sustainable seafood policy was a logical yet challenging step. More precisely, commitments were made in 2009 by management to aim towards 100% sustainable seafood. Once this target was set, the challenge remained to define what could be deemed as sustainable.
For supply where National Regulations or credible Third Party Certifications were available, this was somewhat easier, but for the majority of the assessment we had to work together with WWF Belgium and National Scientific Institutes to define what could and what could not remain in our product lines. For instance, we removed swordfish and European eel then. Another difficult part of sustainable seafood management is that it is an ever moving target, especially for wild catch: you have to continuously re-adapt your product lines according to new scientific evidence, even if it impedes your sales strategy. At Delhaize we are confident sustainable seafood is an issue our customers expect us to tackle, mainly because it’s the right thing to do.
From there, on a daily basis it really becomes a matter of creativity: convince people to try new species, to let go of former/traditional ones. Your marketing strength, the education of your fishmongers in store, and the connection/trust with your customers are all definitely key factors here. And I must say that at Delhaize we are pretty well served!