By Tracy Schneider
program long haul In for the
Tracy Schneider fills March's
consumer reporter slot with
a behind-the-scenes look at
a popular Kirkland Signature
product. Send your questions
about this article to:
THERE ARE MANY ways to define sustainability.
When it comes to aquaculture, sustainability simply
means the responsible farming of seafood. It is the
raising of healthy farmed fish and shrimp with minimal environmental or social impact over the long
term. Farms must take into account issues of water
quality and waste removal, disease and antibiotic use,
deforestation and wetland degradation.
The question is, whether you are looking at seafood, chocolate or coffee, what does it take to create
In 2007, as part of the company’s seafood program, Costco was already actively involved in monitoring the shrimp supply chain, but from the
processing side as opposed to the farmers’.
Over time Ken Kimble, Costco’s assistant general
merchandising manager of corporate foods, and the
Costco team—which is composed of corporate and
regional buyers around the world—came to understand that ensuring the quality of Kirkland Signature™
shrimp went far beyond the processing stage. It
could only be as good as the quality of the farmed
product itself. And that meant working toward
ensuring sustainability, from hatchery to Costco.
“We learned that we needed to become experts in
every aspect of the supply chain: hatchery, farming,
86 ;e Costco Connection MARCH 2013
feeding mills and processors,” says Ken. It was the only
way to consistently provide Costco with the highest-quality shrimp, raised and processed in the most environmentally responsible way. And it was a big job.
Nearly half of the seafood consumed in the world
comes from farms. There were too many farms and
no set of standards.
Because of the enormousness of the challenge,
the team realized that Costco couldn’t single-handedly change the way shrimp was farmed. So the company turned to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF;
www.worldwildlife.org), the largest independent conservation organization in the world.
Encouraging sustainable farming
The WWF began to tackle seafood aquaculture
in 2006 through a series of roundtable discussions
known as the Aquaculture Dialogues, which convened 2,200 farmers, retailers, NGOs, scientists and
other important stakeholders to develop standards
for responsibly farmed seafood.
The dialogue process is all-encompassing and
complex. The goal is to build consensus around
environmental and social standards for responsibly
farmed seafood, the end result of that consensus
being a rigorous set of standards that minimize the