Friday, June 28, 2013

Is this anything?

Some days ago, on June 19, a senior seafood buyer for retail giant Walmart sent salmon suppliers this letter.

"Please review the attached letter in regards to wild salmon. This is a reconfirmation of our requirements for sustainable sourcing of wild salmon," said an email introducing the letter. "Now that the wild salmon harvest season is upon us, please review your source fisheries to ensure that they meet our sustainability requirements."

The letter said the company will buy only from fisheries "certified sustainable to the MSC standard," or actively working toward certification.


The bulk of Alaska's salmon industry, you'll recall, recently fired MSC — the London-based Marine Stewardship Council — as tedious, expensive and superfluous.

Walmart said it might consider an alternative to MSC certification. But, according to its letter, "Walmart has not yet determined any other standard to be equivalent to MSC. Therefore, no other standards will be accepted as equivalent until such time as we announce our decision."

Deckboss hasn't talked with the MSC folks, but imagines they're delighted with Walmart's stance.

I've also not talked with Alaska's major salmon processors. But I'm guessing they're not too worried.

Why not?

Because the processors are confident most buyers trust that Alaska has a good and very abundant wild product, and that the state manages its salmon runs sustainably.

Further, I expect the processors believe the Alaska brand trumps the MSC brand.

Deckboss did ask Tyson Fick, spokesman for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, for a comment. Remember, Alaska's major salmon processors control the ASMI board.

"It is amazing to me," he said, "that America's largest retailer appears to be saying that they will not buy American seafood without the endorsement of a foreign-based environmental group while promoting foreign seafood with clearly inferior fisheries management and quality, all in the name of sustainability."


Anonymous said...

Walmart has a history of bullying sellers into constantly lowering their price so they can offer their 'everyday low prices'so I ask: Do Alaskan seafood processors even need to sell to Walmart? Seems like fishermen and processors alike would stand to make more money in the long run selling through other outlets. Besides, isn't wild Alaskan salmon a little high brow for Walmart? They sell frozen Arrowtooth fillets!

Anonymous said...

to 3:20, I certainly won't defend walmart, but it seems ridiculous and naive to disregard such a huge conduit to the consumer. Perhaps your personal ideals don't sync...

49erDweet said...

That letter provides the perfect cover for a brilliant marketing plan, IMO. "WILD, Alaskan Sockeye Salmon! The real kind, like you can't buy at WallieWorld" and various take-offs like that, Use Wal-Mart's notoriously stingy marketing rep to tag them with foreign and farm grown fish, not the real thing! After all, they brought it up!

Anonymous said...

MSC labeling is nothing more than extortion. The government should investigate this and use RICO laws to bring them down.

Anonymous said...

to 7:53- my personal ideals definitely do not sync with wal mart. I was fortunate to have grown in a community without them and have never spent $1 in one of their stores. I'm not naive at all to the size & scope of walmart as a retailer, but I am interested in whether or not they matter as a retailer of wild alaskan salmon, as well as other high end or specialty products. I read a paper some time ago about how local businesses can defend themselves from walmart and the number one way was to have top quality customer service and second was to have expertise in the products you're selling. I cant say whether this matters to seafood marketers, but its interesting stuff to think about.

Anonymous said...

Its ENGO/ wealth foundation extortion.
Check this for YOUR favorite wealth foundation's listing.

US Fisheries are sustainable BY LAW!
I'm sick of ENGO's

Anonymous said...

Deckboss, please show a little effort and write blog headlines that are more relevant than "Is This Anything?"

Lori French said...

Does this really surprise you? Walmart and the Walton Foundation have proven time and time again NOT TO BE FRIENDS of commercial fishermen.

Walmart sure isn't getting my money!