Advancing our commitment on sustainable seafood
We believe the people behind the products we sell deserve to be treated fairly and encouraged to use resources sustainably. As a national grocer and retailer, we’re committed to using our scale and influence responsibly, by taking steps to partner with our suppliers and source more products that fulfill the growing customer demand for ethical and sustainable products.
Fiscal 2023 Performance Highlight
of Own Brands seafood is sustainably sourced
Our key focus areas on ethical and sustainable sourcing include:
Sustainable palm oil
Our strategy for each of these topics is based on a multi-phased approach that involves gathering data to gain a deeper understanding of our supply chain. This helps us develop appropriate governance mechanisms and set ambitious yet achievable commitments, with the aim of continuously improving our approach. To determine new directions and make progress, we engage closely with internal teams and external stakeholders, including suppliers, industry associations, NGOs, subject matter experts and academics. Our goals are to empower supplier partners with clear policies, expectations, and tools and to help customers make sustainable and healthy product choices.
New Ethical & Sustainable Sourcing Policy
In fiscal 2022 we introduced a new Ethical & Sustainable Sourcing Policy for supplier partners. Applying to both direct and indirect supplier partners, this policy clearly communicates our expectations that supplier partners address the environmental impacts of their products by complying with all applicable environmental laws and regulations and upholding high standards of environmental stewardship.
Over the past year, we’ve made progress across key product categories to enable more ethical and sustainable sourcing.
Key partnerships supporting our work in this area include the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, CDP Supply Chain Program, National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC), Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, Ocean Wise and Fairtrade Canada.
Focus on Human Rights in Our Supply Chain
We are also reviewing our supply chain and procurement practices with a particular focus on child and forced labour. In fiscal 2024, we aim to launch a Human Rights Due Diligence Program to mitigate these risks in our supply chain. As part of this workstream, we will:
- Train supplier-facing teams on human rights
- Embed ethical sourcing considerations into procurement practices and processes
- Train supplier partners on compliance with our human rights due diligence program
- Conduct a baseline supply chain risk assessment
- Report annually on our progress
Ongoing Commitment to Animal Welfare
Building on the publication of our Ethical & Sustainable Sourcing Policy and Animal Welfare Statements in fiscal 2023, we have been developing programs and sourcing guidelines to help our supplier partners align with these policies. As part of our commitment to continuous improvement, we are developing protein-specific sourcing guidelines, starting with egg-laying hens and pork. We aim to publish these first guidelines by the end of fiscal 2024. Following this, we will begin work on guidelines for poultry, beef cattle, dairy cattle and finfish by the end of fiscal 2025. We develop guidelines in collaboration with supplier partners and other stakeholders, including the National Farmed Animal Care Council. We will focus on addressing protein-specific welfare issues and, where feasible, introduce updated, measurable, time-bound and achievable commitments towards higher welfare products.
Sourcing Sustainable Palm Oil
Last year we updated our Sustainable Palm Oil Policy, setting a goal to physically source 100 per cent certified sustainable palm oil in Own Brands products by December 31, 2025, as defined by the RSPO standard. This goal will be achieved without the purchase of palm oil credits. As we’ve increased our commitment, we are updating our Sustainable Palm Oil Policy governance to ensure supplier partners are meeting our standards through annual checks and verifying that supplier partners have proper certifications.
Ensuring Fair Pay for Growers Through Fairtrade
Last year we launched an organic Fairtrade Banana Program in all stores in Canada, contributing to fair pay for growers. Fairtrade banana growers are paid at least the Fairtrade Minimum Price, which acts as a crucial safety net through market fluctuations, and a Fairtrade Premium—an extra sum of money for investment in business or community projects. In fiscal 2023, Sobeys purchased 6,768,378 kgs of bananas, generating $373,119 of Fairtrade Premium funds. These funds are invested into projects to support our growers’ communities.
We recently introduced a new initiative called Seafood Metrics, developed by Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, which aims to provide supplier partners with a comprehensive understanding of the sustainability risks associated with their source fisheries, including both wild-caught and farmed seafood. By doing so, we aim to empower our suppliers to make informed decisions about the seafood they source and promote more sustainable practices in the industry. Seafood Metrics aggregates and tracks information on governance quality, target stock health, human rights risks, and environmental impacts in fisheries. This helps businesses evaluate the sustainability impacts of fish and seafood products, understand the effectiveness of existing improvement efforts, and prioritize future opportunities. Seafood Metrics also serves as a traceability program for our seafood supply chain, enabling our suppliers to report on place of origin. The supply chain insights that this program is providing will enable us to create an updated version of our seafood sourcing guidelines, which will be published by the end of fiscal 2024. As we work towards expanding our sustainable seafood guidelines beyond our Own Brands products, the third-party programs we are certified by include:
Percentage of Own Brand fresh and frozen fish and other seafood by weight that are third-party certified sustainable or recommended
Percentage of Own Brands fresh, frozen and other seafood products certified by Marine Stewardship Council
Percentage of Own Brands fresh, frozen, and other seafood products recommended by Ocean Wise
Percentage of Own Brands fresh, frozen, and other seafood products certified by Aquaculture Stewardship Council
Percentage of Own Brands fresh, frozen, and other seafood products certified by Best Aquaculture Practice
Note: Products may be certified to more than one third-party certification program.
As a family nurturing families, we want to ensure Canadians are taken care of today, tomorrow and in the future. By doing OurPart™ for the environment, we hope to inspire our customers to do theirs. Every step we take together—big or small—can make a difference.Learn More