Please note: The text below was updated in April, 2016 to reflect our current performance and initiatives. This text replaced disclosure from the original 2014 Sustainability Report.

Sustainable Seafood

At a time when three billion people rely on both wild-caught and farmed seafood as their primary source of protein, sustainable management of our marine resources is more critical than ever.

Decades of overfishing have led to the collapse of key commercial fisheries around the globe, reducing once plentiful stocks on which the ecosystem and millions of people depend. In supporting transformational change in global fisheries, Sysco is working toward conserving the health of the marine ecosystem and the livelihoods of future generations.

Our Approach

As one of the largest purchasers of seafood in North America, we are committed to working with our suppliers to improve sustainability in our seafood supply chain.

We began working with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 2009 to assess our seafood supply chain and in 2011 announced our goal of sourcing our top 10 Sysco Brand wild-caught seafood species by 2015 from fisheries that are either certified to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard, in full assessment by the MSC or engaged in comprehensive fishery improvement projects (FIP).

Our Performance

In regard to the commitment above, as of the end of 2015, Sysco now sources approximately 90 percent of its top 10 wild-caught Portico Brand seafood species from fisheries that are either MSC-certified, in MSC full assessment or engaged in a comprehensive FIP. In fact, all of Sysco’s Portico Brand wild-caught frozen cod, pollock, North American (cold water) lobster, haddock, salmon, scallops, halibut and flounder coming from MSC-certified fisheries. Sysco purchased more than 24 million pounds of seafood from MSC-certified fisheries in 2015, an increase of more than 250% compared to 2011. Lastly, all of Sysco’s canned and pouched tuna suppliers becoming members of the ISSA and supporting the tuna sustainability efforts of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF).

The remaining portion of the top 10 species that did not meet our commitment is sourced from a calamari and shrimp fishery. We believe it is most beneficial to continue working with these fisheries to improve their environmental performance and ultimately achieve MSC certification. Sysco and WWF have pledged to work together to continue to support constructive discussions with processors, fishermen, government agencies, non-government agencies, and MSC to reach this goal.

Our 2020 Commitment

In 2016, we reinforced our commitment to improve the sustainability of our seafood procurement practices and standards by continuing our alliance with WWF through 2020.
Specifically, we pledged to increase our offerings of responsibly caught Sysco and Portico Brand seafood products to customers with the following goals. We will aim to:

  • We will aim to source our top 15 wild-caught Sysco Portico Brand seafood from fisheries that are either certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), in MSC full assessment or in a comprehensive fishery improvement project (FIP) – with at least 75 percent of this volume coming from MSC-certified fisheries;
  • We will aim to source our top five Sysco Portico Brand aquaculture species groups – shrimp, salmon, pangasius, tilapia, catfish – from farms that are either certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), in ASC full assessment, in aquaculture improvement projects leading to ASC certification, and/or certified against a minimum two star rating on the Best Aquaculture Practices standards as defined by the Global Aquaculture Alliance. In addition, Sysco will preferentially source ASC-certified product when available;
  • Sysco will work with WWF to promote efforts to improve seafood traceability globally by participating in the Global Dialogue for Seafood Traceability as well as enhancing Sysco’s current capabilities to trace seafood products throughout its supply chain; and
  • Sysco will build on its work to increase the supply of sustainable tuna, including sourcing Sysco Brand canned and pouched tuna from fisheries that are MSC-certified, in MSC full assessment, in a comprehensive FIP, or showing International Seafood Sustainability Association (ISSA) membership.

In addition to supporting several active fishery improvement projects, Sysco has encouraged its suppliers in important source fisheries to move toward sustainability, and particularly MSC certification. These fisheries include Baltic Sea Atlantic cod, Canadian lobster, and now-MSC-certified US Atlantic sea scallop. Such work helps establish resilient, healthy fisheries that can provide long-term benefits to the planet and sustainable business.

Sysco has clearly demonstrated a will to source tuna sustainably. In 2013, all of its Thailand suppliers already belonged to the International Seafood Sustainability Association (ISSA), while thanks to Sysco’s encouragements to lower ISSA membership fees, 5 additional suppliers in Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines were able to become ISSA members in 2014.

The global reach of Sysco's supply chain makes them an invaluable partner on our journey toward improved sustainability of the world's tuna fisheries. Through Sysco's collaboration with WWF, not only do they keep their suppliers well informed regarding our global efforts, they are also instrumental in ISSF's success in expanding our participating company footprint into new markets.

Sysco’s support has been crucial to advancing WWF supported FIPs. In Ecuador, Sysco contributed funds toward the distribution of circle hooks to fishermen that will help to reduce bycatch of endangered sea turtle in the mahi mahi fishery. Their funds have also provided critical support to our field staff on the ground in Ecuador, Peru and Nicaragua. Sysco’s engagement in these FIPs has not only advanced the fisheries toward MSC certification, but has also contributed to encouraging change on the water.