From the beginning of the year, the seafood industry has received notable market attention.

From the National Fisheries Institute’s Global Seafood Marketing Conference (GSMC), forward into the Seafood Exposition North America (March, Boston) and the Brussels Seafood Show (April), the industry remains confident in its approach to proactively build upon its reputation as a sustainable protein source, feeding the world with delicious and savory choices.

Healthy Option

Datassentials reports that 73% of Americans consider seafood as healthy. Healthy has evolved from a concept born on weight management, grown to mean local, natural and sustainable, and now functional to include protein, anti-oxidant and super food qualities. Along with these developing trends, the US FDA recently held a public meeting on the term “Healthy” in the labelling of human food. 

Demand for seafood is forecast to increase in “opposing” consumer markets: fine dining and quick service restaurants. Guiding this expansion is the excitement created by seafood chefs and entrepreneurs, and there is no exclusivity to either skill, or business acumen.

Closing out the GSMC, the seafood industry leadership highlighted some key take-aways:

  • Production of selected species relies upon favorable El Nino conditions
  • Atlantic salmon supply difficulties continue to hinge on algae blooms, and disease management
  • Enhanced US FDA inspections may further reduce supply: both fishing and cold chain preservation practices must improve
  • Currency swings, trade disputes, or political dissention over imports may further reduce supply
  • The US and China emerge as global, competing importers whether for domestic consumption or re-export

Notwithstanding the dynamics from the GSMC, the level of collaboration within the seafood industry to resolve sustainability issues has seen unprecedented levels of activity. Two examples are Verite’s collaboration with Nestlé for its supply chain reporting, and FishWise’s comprehensive white paper entitled Social Accountability in the Global Seafood Industry.

Drawn from the latter are “Steps to Achieving Social Responsibility” which should be seriously considered as a blueprint for industry, government, NGO and consumer collaboration:

  1. Map It – define and create supply chain transparency
  2. Analyze – conduct a risk assessment and focus on the high risk areas
  3. Commit – ensure your supply chain commits to social responsibility goals
  4. Communicate to Vendors – give feedback to vendors, and ensure improvements are made
  5. Track – track progress against commitments
  6. Audit and Certify – support unannounced audits, seek certification or best practice guidance
  7. Communicate with Customers – provide clear information on sourcing and sustainability
  8. Engage – participate in multi-stakeholder dialogues, combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and labor abuses
  9. Support Improvements – consider supporting Fishery and Aquaculture Improvement Projects
  10. Share – promote transparency and positive social stories2

Changing courses and leading up to the Seafood Exposition North America, the exposition stays on trend with the aforementioned emerging trends and issues. A sampling of the panel discussions may be divided into tracts:

  • Regulatory: Import Regulations; Species Authenticity; Brexit Challenges; FDA-Customs Seafood/Facility Inspections; Seafood Trade & Regulations; Seafood Standards Updates
  • Sustainability: Corporate Social Responsibility in the Protein Sector; Sustainable Seafood Consumption; The Face of Sustainability; What Makes Fisheries Improvement Projects Work?
  • Traceability: Translating Traceability for Everyone; How Traceability Works in the Real World; Harnessing Expanded Data to Verify, Trace and Promote Seafood; Reducing Risk of IUU
  • Technology: The Feed Revolution, Driving Eco-Efficiency; OUSEI Advanced Aquaculture Technology
  • Consumer: Delicious and Profitable: Chefs discuss Seafood; Consumer Preferences: Fresh vs. Frozen, Influencer Marketing, Talking to Millennials about Aquaculture

SGS moderated the Corporate Social Responsibility in the Protein Sector session with panelists from retail, restaurant, manufacturer, standard, and certification leaders. We encourage you to attend these seafood industry events and contribute to the ongoing dialogues in seafood safety, quality and sustainability.

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For the complete range of SGS seafood services and support visit www.sgs.com/seafood or send an email to food@sgs.com.

Kevin Edwards
Global Food Business Development
t: +1 973-461-7903


2Social Responsibility in the Global Seafood Sector, FishWise, December 2016