ALDI switches to ‘sustainable’ fish while Coles dumps cage eggs

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 25th March 2013

Australian supermarkets have been responding to growing consumer activism in favour of ‘sustainable’ fish and ‘free range’ eggs.

The German-owned Australian ALDI supermarket group has announced that it will work with the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) to evaluate the sustainability of its seafood range in Australia.

ALDI  says the partnership will enable it to develop programs and strategies to ensure the sustainability of the supply chain and meet its commitment to ‘source sustainably wild caught or farmed seafood’.

“As a leading retailer we take our corporate responsibility seriously. We are committed to offering a range of sustainable food choices to our customers across all applicable categories, including our seafood range,” said an ALDI Australia spokesperson.

In August 2012, ALDI Australia launched a new fish-buying policy, working towards having all wild caught fish sourced through sustainable and equitable methods by 2016. The Company says it will trace its entire canned tuna range from where it is caught through supply chains and into stores. By 2014, ALDI said each canned tuna product will have the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisations (UN FAO) catchment area printed on its lid, which will allow consumers to see exactly where the tuna was caught. By 2016, the Company said its entire canned tuna range will be sourced using a combination of the available sustainable options, including Pole and Line caught and Fishing Aggregating Device Free methods.

Coles switches from caged eggs and sow stall pork

The announcement from ALDI comes not long after supermarket giant Coles announced in January 2013 that it had removed cage eggs and sow stall produced pork from its stores.

“Animal welfare issues continue to be one of the major concerns customers raise with use – they want to know that animals have been properly treated,” said Jackie Healing, Coles Head of Responsible Sourcing and Quality.

But while Coles’ removal of cage eggs from its range was welcomed by animal welfare groups, its definition of ‘free range’ has been met with hesitation. Coles’ proposed ‘free range’ standards would allow up to 10,000 birds per hectare, which is a nearly seven-fold increase in the number of birds per hectare allowed under the voluntary guidelines. In November 2012, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission rejected the Australian Egg Corporation Limited’s (AECL’s) proposal for ‘free range’, saying that the proposed 20,000 birds per hectare would be “misleading”.

One of Australia’s ‘free range’ egg and poultry accreditors, Free Range Egg and Poultry Australia Ltd (FREPA) has expressed dissatisfaction with the Coles supermarket moves. FREPA told Australian Food News that Coles had not consulted them in setting its ‘free range’ guidelines.

“Listening to the public debate, FREPA would be unlikely to certify layer birds at 10,000 birds per hectare,” Meg Parkinson, spokesperson for FREPA told Australian Food News. “But I notice it says ‘up to 10,000’, so FREPA members may still be able to tender [to supply Coles’ brand free range eggs] if they choose,” she added.