Fish and seafood
Fish and seafood are precious resources for our planet and all who live on it. For people in some of the poorest countries, this is especially so, as they rely on healthy fisheries for their protein source. We work hard to ensure our fish and seafood comes from responsible sources, as well as bringing innovative solutions to tackle challenges such as labour conditions.
25% of our seafood purchased in 2017 was responsibly sourced
57% of our total whole fish purchased in 2017 was traceable to its source
Sourcing fish and seafood responsibly
Our fish and seafood come from a wide variety of sources, including wild fisheries in oceans around the world and from aquaculture farms. We purchased around 134 000 tonnes of fish and seafood in 2017, most of which is for Nestlé Purina.
We understand the importance of sourcing from healthy fisheries and aquaculture farms, as well as the immense challenges we all must overcome to source fish and seafood responsibly. Therefore, we work closely with our suppliers to identify, as far as possible, the sources of our fish and seafood ingredients. Our ambition is to verify that the fish and seafood we source come from healthy fisheries or farms or those that are engaged in improvement projects. By communicating our expectations to our suppliers and following up on their progress, we are increasingly able to assess our supply chain against our category-specific requirements for fish and seafood. We are also able to evaluate the responsibility of seafood sources (wild and farmed) and identify projects to enhance the environmental performance of our suppliers.
To best identify the origins of fish by-products, which make up the majority of what we use, and whole fish, our buyers work closely with their vendors to collect data on the species, country of origin and fishery from where the fish originated. We provide all this seafood purchasing information to our independent, not-for-profit partner the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) to identify and assess the risks at the origin of our seafood supply.
Seafood for pet food
Identifying the precise sources for fish and seafood is difficult. For pet food, which primarily uses fish by-products, traceability is even more challenging as the typical traceability mechanisms for whole fish do not suffice. So why do we use fish by-products in our pet food? All of Nestlé Purina’s pet food products follow complete and balanced recipes that meet the nutritional needs of dogs and cats at each life stage and for many health conditions. Over 500 Nestlé Purina animal experts are behind the creation of our recipes to provide perfectly balanced pet nutrition. Some of these recipes include the use of fish by-products, which are nutrient-dense. Fish by-products are parts of a fish that remain after the fish fillets are removed for the human food supply chain. In addition to being nutritionally beneficial, the utilisation of fish by-products represents an environmentally and socially responsible practice, by using all the protein sources of a fish while not competing with the human food supply.
Supply chain challenges and solutions
The fish and seafood supply chain has a number of challenges we are working hard to address.
Overfishing is a key challenge facing all of us. Nestlé reviews all the species caught to ensure that no critically endangered or endangered species of fish according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List are included in our seafood purchases.
Improving labour conditions
Poor labour conditions has been identified as one of the challenges within the fish and seafood supply chain, particular in Thailand’s fishing industry. We work with two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – Verité, which specialises in tacking labour abuses in supply chains, and Issara, which aims to offer workers a voice – to tackle this challenge by developing an innovative training solution using a new showcase fishing vessel.
To further improve conditions in our supply chain, we have banned transhipment at sea (transferring goods from one vessel to another while in transit), a significant risk factor for labour abuses. We are now working with our suppliers, who have committed to delivering on this.
Tackling supply chain abuses in the seafood industry
The abuse of labour rights in the Thai seafood industry is a serious challenge. Issues such as trafficking, forced and underage labour, lack of grievance procedures, workplace conditions, and poor wages and benefits need to be addressed urgently. Working with partners, such as Verité, Issara, the Royal Thai Government, the Seafood Taskforce, and our suppliers, we have been taking action to eliminate these challenges from our supply chain.
Verité collected information from fishing vessels, ports, mills and farms in Thailand. Following their investigation (pdf, 800 Kb), we developed and launched an action plan (pdf, 655 Kb), with a dedicated manager based in Thailand to oversee its implementation.
Among the actions implemented was developing a training programme to educate vessel owners, captains and crew members on living and working conditions onboard boats, and on workers’ rights. To support this, in 2017, in collaboration with our supplier Thai Union, Verité, the Royal Thai Government and the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), we created a new training vessel. Using a previously impounded fishing vessel, we developed a showcase boat, designed to International Labour Organization standards, that demonstrates acceptable conditions. We have also audited more than 10% of vessels in the Thai seafood industry so far against the Seafood Task Force limited scope UL (Underwriters Laboratories) auditable standard.
We have also partnered with Issara, a worker voice organisation that has been assessing the Thai seafood supply chain to provide workers with access to remediation mechanisms, such as helplines, smartphone messaging apps and through Facebook.
You can read our full 2017 update on progress against our action plan here (pdf, 535 Kb)