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Thai Federation: Traceability key to successful seafood sustainability efforts

The Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST), which was launched in February 2020, has already garnered the support of some of the world’s largest seafood companies, and this trend is likely to continue as seafood companies focus on increasing sustainability, according to Thai Union Director of Sustainability. The group is Adam Brennan.

Brennan said tracking is the backbone that holds the entire sustainability movement together. Speaking during a conference session at Seafood Expo Asia – held September 14-16, 2022 at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Center – Brennan said other industry sustainability goals could not be achieved if traceability was not accepted globally as a mandatory part of doing business. .

Thai Union’s traceability goals include combating climate change, promoting a healthy diet through the consumption of seafood, ensuring sustainability in sourcing, protecting workers within its supply chain, Brennan said. He said those goals would remain elusive without traceability in the company’s supply chains.

“Without traceability, these goals are impossible,” Brennan said. “How can we protect workers in our supply chain if we don’t know what ships are [the seafood] Coming from? ”

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If a company doesn’t have a tracking system in place, Brennan said, it’s impossible for it to claim sustainability.

“Traceability is absolutely essential in carrying out the full assessment and due diligence of your supply chain,” Brennan said. “It is imperative that we get more data from the supply chain.”

He said the design is the result of an assessment of Thai Union’s supply chain that revealed key steps the company could take to ensure its supply chain meets higher standards.

“When we started this year, we weren’t necessarily GDST compliant,” Brennan said. “But what we’ve realized is that we need to lead one common standard if we’re going to move forward with tracking.”

He said this assessment is the reason why Thai Union is committed to GDST compliance and traceability of the entire chain of the tuna supply chain by 2025.

“I think traceability requires every actor along the supply chain to be on board. There is a tremendous amount of education still required,” Brennan said.

The good news for companies like Thai Union is that traceability can be profitable, according to Hajime Tanaka, research fellow at the Ocean Policy Research Institute. Tanaka conducted extensive research on the Tokyo Bay Passport and found that customers are drawn to seafood with greater traceability.

The Tokyo Fish Passport consists of a QR code on seafood packaging, which links to information about when and where it was caught, the type of gear caught, how it was transported, and a profile of those involved in fishing for their food.

Tanaka found through his research that passport-backed seafood has a much higher likelihood of buying, especially among customers looking to buy a type of fish they have not tried before. In addition, repeat customers – people who tend to buy fish more often – were more willing to purchase seafood through the QR code on the Tokyo Fish Passport.

Through many experiments and surveys, Tanaka found that the desire to buy directly translated into real value. aAccording to his research, tThe Tokyo Fish Pass had a value of 31 to 35 ($0.21 to $0.24, EUR 0.22 to EUR 0.25) per sale.

“This tracking information can bring economic profits,” Tanaka said.

More public education could boost this profit margin, Tanaka said, as consumers were willing to pay more for traceability if they had a greater understanding of its importance.

“In some ways, it’s true,” he said, “people don’t realize the importance of things until they’re shown.” “Willingness to pay for this information depends entirely on people’s literacy. We have to tell people why it is important.”

Brennan said Thai Union’s work to improve the traceability of its seafood made it want to have more information about its catch.

“At the beginning of our tracking [journey] … We didn’t really know what we wanted, and when we got the information, we wanted more,” he said.

Traceability is the “heart and soul” of sustainability, Brennan told him.

“There is a reason why we put traceability in [center] of our strategy. “Nothing can be achieved without it.”

Photo by Chris Chase / SeafoodSource