Waitrose has today announced a major pledge to source all its seafood from independently certified sources, with an industry leading deadline of the end of 2016.
The move builds on the long established (15 years) Waitrose Responsible Fish Sourcing Policy*. And as well as providing customers with extra assurance that their fish is from responsible sources, it will also enable the retailer to ensure a longer-term guarantee of sustainability in the face of increasing global pressure on fish stocks.
Says Waitrose Fish Buyer Jeremy Langley: “For us, this pledge feels like a natural evolution of our long-standing responsible fishing policy. We started to have concerns over stocks of some of our favourite fish in 1997 - we thought this was something we needed to look at so we started work building a policy with our suppliers.
“Our Waitrose policies have been evolving for more than 15 years, and will continue to evolve. But - with global demand for fish increasing, and the size of our business increasing - we need to ensure we’re putting the right steps in place now if we’re to ensure a sustainable supply of fish in the decades to come.”
Waitrose sells 12% of the fish bought in British supermarkets (Nielsen) - so its actions have the potential to significantly influence the seafood market.
Cod and haddock
The first major change will be all Waitrose fresh, smoked and breaded cod and haddock, which from 6th May will be certified as sustainable by the MSC, famous for its well-recognised blue tick logo.
Says Waitrose Fish Buyer Jeremy Langley: “This is a major step in our pledge to become 100% fully certified by 2016. And being two of the ‘big five’ species, cod and haddock account for a significant proportion of our sales so it’s a satisfying step forward.”
Says Toby Middleton, MSC UK Country Manager: “This in a hugely significant move by Waitrose and we’re delighted that MSC certified seafood is playing such a key role in help Waitrose achieve their target. By committing to full independent seafood certification by the end of 2016, they are helping to drive the transformation of the seafood market around the world. Cod and haddock are hugely important to British shoppers and, despite the abundance in many stocks, cod is still an iconic poster-child for seafood’s sustainability challenges. By adding MSC certification to all of their fresh, smoked and breaded cod and haddock, Waitrose are helping to drive demand for certified sustainable seafood and, in turn, having a direct impact on improving the sustainability of the worlds’ oceans.”
The Waitrose Way Commitments
The Waitrose announcement to source only independently certified fish is one of 12 CSR pledges launching publicly today (2nd May) as the Waitrose Way Commitments.
The Commitments span the four ‘Waitrose Way’ CSR pillars: Treading Lightly, Championing British, Treating People Fairly and Living Well, and consolidate the retailer's responsibility work in to one place - setting clear targets for the business to achieve.
Says Waitrose Head of Sustainability and Ethical Sourcing Quentin Clark: “These pledges by no means cover everything we're up to. But when we spoke to customers these 12 areas are what people said really mattered most.
"As a nation we're getting busier, and lack of time means we need to be able to trust the retailer we are using. So when creating these pledges we made sure the emphasis was on how we we're being part of the solution, now and in the future - we want it to be really easy for our customers to know we’re doing right thing.”
The Waitrose Way Commitments
1. We’re cutting energy (and growing trees)
We’re using low carbon technology for any new-builds and 100% renewable energy in all our UK stores. We’ve also planted thousands of trees with the Woodland Trust to absorb the carbon from Waitrose.com deliveries.
By 2020, we aim to reduce our carbon footprint, even though our business will double in size. Over 40 of our stores will be powered by renewable woodchips. And we’ll replace all our lights with energy-efficient LEDs.
2. We’re shrinking waste
We’re already reducing our packaging, making it easier to recycle, and sending zero food waste to landfill (surplus, fit for purpose food is donated to charity, and unusable food is turned into energy through anaerobic digestion).
By 2016, we’ll have halved our packaging compared to 2005 and increased the amount you can recycle yourself – so you put less in the bin. We’ll also make sure all our surplus food, provided it’s still fit to eat, goes to help local communities.
3. We’re fishing responsibly
We only stock responsibly caught or farmed fish that pass our own rigorous Responsible Sourcing Code of Practice.
By 2016, we will be adding to this by also ensuring all our fish is independently certified as sustainable.
4. We’re doing the right thing by farmers (and their flock, herd or brood)
We’ve carefully chosen farmers who share our values. All of their animals are reared to exceptional standards – and they get a fair price for their produce.
For example we now have more than 30 Livestock Producer Groups, supporting farmers and giving them an assured market.
We’ll continue to set the standard with Waitrose products, always seeking ways to improve the quality of care.
But you needn’t take our word for it. We’ll be recognised by independent industry experts for leading the way - for example Compassion in World Farming, who most recently awarded us their Good Pig Award (Sep 2012) for using only higher welfare pork in all our food.
5. We’re backing British
As farmers ourselves at Leckford Farm, we’re right at the heart of British agriculture. In fact, we already stock all of our fresh beef, pork and chicken from British farmers – and that includes the meat in our ready meals.
Together with our farmers, we’ll continue to use the best sustainable farming methods. Every year we will contribute over £1 billion to the farmers and suppliers behind our fresh products.
For example Waitrose is asking suppliers of fruit, vegetables and flowers to avoid the use of three formulations of neonicotinoid based pesticides on crops destined for its shelves, while we fund research in to concerns about their effect on bees, butterflies and other important pollinators.
6. We’re championing regional suppliers
We’re already bringing you delicious local food from family businesses and independent suppliers in your region.
In the next five years we’ll be supporting thousands of food heroes and hundreds of small companies, who together make up more than 20% of our supply base – all providing fabulous food from the heart of their communities.
7. We’re ahead of the field in organic
We’re already leading organic sales on the high street with our Duchy Organic brand.
In the next five years, alongside the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation, we’ll give more than £10 million to charitable causes – including support for agricultural sustainability through the Duchy Future Farming Programme
Treating People Fairly
8. We’re giving something back
We’re making time for our Partners to volunteer for good causes, and sharing more than £3 million of our profit each year through our Community Matters scheme.
By 2017, our Partners will have been paid to volunteer over 400,000 working hours (equivalent to more than 11,000 full working weeks) to local good causes.
We also will have donated more than £20 million to over 50,000 local causes through our Community Matters Initiative (green tokens). And, by the end of 2013, we’ll have setup local food banks at every one of our supermarkets.
9. We’re sharing more fairly traded foods
We’re already offering delicious fairly traded products through our own Waitrose Foundation and organisations such as FairTrade.
In the next five years, the Waitrose Foundation will invest over £7m to help communities in Africa. We’ll also be growing our range of fairly traded products.
10. We’re in it together
We’re owned by our Partners – so we share values as well as profits. This makes us one of the largest co-owned businesses in the world.
In the next ten years, 5,000 Partners will have been with us for more than 25 years and a further 800 will have worked a full 40. All that experience and commitment means great service, and our employee-owned culture is key to engaging all Partners to achieve our CSR commitments.
11. We’re helping you make healthy choices
We’re already clearly labelling our food and we have an online nutritionist to give you personalised help and advice.
The Nutrition Advice Service has been running for 10 years, answering around 5,500 queries each year.
We’ll give you easy to use shopping lists, designed to match your diet, health and lifestyle – however you choose to shop with us.
Lists launching include suggested products for newly diagnosed diabetics or those avoiding gluten.
12. We’re making good food even better
We’re already making mealtimes healthier by cutting salt without compromising taste. We have also removed artificial colours and artificial trans fats from our food and have minimised allergens.
In the next five years, we’ll bring you even more delicious, healthier foods. We’ll be focusing on the nutritional benefits across our range, as well as reducing the amount of salt, sugar and saturated fats.
And we’ll be publicly reporting on the progress of our health pledges in the Government’s Public Health Responsibility Deal.