Posted on February 13, 2006

Compass Group announces landmark policy to purchase sustainable seafood

Monterey Bay Aquarium's 'Seafood Watch' praises foodservice provider's commitment to protect threatened fish supply

Compass Group USA Wednesday announced a major policy to shift the company’s purchases away from threatened fish species and toward sustainably sourced supplies.

The new policy will impact approximately one million pounds of fish purchased annually by Compass Group.

Under the policy, scheduled to begin implementation on March 1, Compass Group will replace Atlantic cod, a species which leading conservationists have recommended consumers to avoid, with more the environmentally-sound Pacific cod, pollock and other alternatives.

Compass Group also plans to seek ways to decrease its use of shrimp and salmon that are farmed in an unsustainable manner. These two species are extremely popular with consumers but are of concern to environmentalists.

The company will eliminate all other ‘Avoid’ species from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch list, and increase its use of ‘Best Choices.’

Charlotte-based Compass Group, The Americas Division is the largest contract foodservice company with $7.5 billion in revenues. It is the largest food service company ever to introduce sustainable seafood purchasing as policy on this scale.

"Compass Group is proud to embrace a sustainable seafood policy that will support the health of our oceans. When we learned about the significant impact that our purchasing shift could make, it was clear that this was the right thing to do," said Gary Green, chief executive officer of Compass Group, The Americas Division.

Bon Appetit Management Company, also owned by Compass Group, has been an influence in leading the industry to adopt sustainable food sourcing policies, the company said.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Bon Appetit is an onsite restaurant company offering full food service management by providing cafe and catering service to corporations, universities and specialty venues. Bon Appetit has more than 190 cafes in 26 states, including Yahoo!, Cisco Systems and Oracle Corporation.

Bon Appetit’s 2003 policy on antibiotic use in chicken led to Compass’s 2005 announcement about antibiotic reduction in pork.

"This seafood purchasing policy represents a commitment of unprecedented scale in the food service industry," said Fedele Bauccio, chief executive officer of Bon Appetit.

The implementation of the sustainable seafood program within Compass Group, including the development of purchasing standards, internal compliance mechanisms, and chef training, will be managed by the Packard Foundation-funded Making Waves Project, a non-profit partnership between the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program and the Bon Appetit Management Company Foundation.

"We applaud Compass Group North America for its leadership," said Mike Sutton, director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Center for the Future of the Oceans, which oversees the aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. "Its commitment, and a similar decision by major food retailer Wal-Mart, is a significant step toward transformation of the seafood market in ways that support sustainable fisheries and healthy ocean ecosystems."

The conservation-driven mission of the Seafood Watch program is to empower consumers and businesses to make choices for healthy oceans. Seafood Watch publishes lists of seafood that are best choices, good alternatives and species to avoid. The goal of the Bon Appetit Management Company Foundation is to transform purchasing practices of the food services industry in ways that respect the global environment and traditional economies.

The policy is expected to be fully implemented within three years, the company said.

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