Local signage has become a visible part of any visit to a Hannaford store. The Local label in Hannaford stores provides unique product differentiation and an important promise to customers that their purchase is supporting the region’s economy. The Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) has been working with Hannaford to implement a local program in the seafood department that maximizes local product offerings and empowers its customers to support local seafood. First, they worked together to define which seafood will receive the Local label. Any fish or shellfish found in the fresh seafood case in a Hannaford location will carry the Local label if it was harvested in the Gulf of Maine region (from Cape Cod, MA to Halifax, Nova Scotia) and was processed in one of the five states where Hannaford does business (ME, NH, MA, VT, and NY).
In the sidecases, product with a Local label must come from the U.S. or Canada, and similarly, must be processed within Hannaford’s footprint. This definition for the sidecases is narrower than some of the center store categories, where a product like coffee can be recognized as Local if the company roasting and processing that coffee is here in Hannaford’s region (despite the coffee beans coming from another part of the world). In the seafood department, Hannaford is interested in recognizing those suppliers that contribute to the region’s jobs and economy. Given that 91% of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is being imported from other countries, Hannaford saw an opportunity in the sidecases to highlight domestic and Canadian product as closer to home than much of the seafood available in the global marketplace.
The Local program goes beyond just offering local seafood; the program intends to reward and enable efforts to improve or move along a continuum toward improving the quality, traceability and environmental impact of harvesting, growing, procuring, and selling seafood. To that end, Hannaford Local suppliers adhere to strict traceability requirements and agree to submit to an independent third party traceability audit that determines the seafood is traceable to the defined local region. Suppliers also agree to implement measurable and achievable improvements to the sustainability of their businesses and the seafood they source. These improvements are made at all levels of a supplier’s business, such as reducing water or energy usage, reducing waste production, or changing to more environmentally friendly packaging. As suppliers work towards these improvement milestones, Hannaford will publicly recognize these efforts and help to identify opportunities for continuous improvement.
In addition to supporting the region’s seafood and fishing industry, Hannaford continues to remain focused on the sustainability of the seafood in the stores, too. All of the seafood in Hannaford’s stores (fresh, frozen, shelf stable) goes through a vetting process and must meet criteria around responsible harvest, as well as traceability.
Leigh Chase, category manager for the seafood department at Hannaford, said, “Considering that the Gulf of Maine is in the backyard of the stores and communities where we do business, Hannaford is committed to ensuring that local seafood is available and present in our seafood cases. Our goal is to have a credible program where customers can feel confident that they are buying local seafood that is properly vetted and is supporting the stability of our local communities.” GMRI and Hannaford will continue working to achieve a local program that is trustworthy and maintains the sustainability of the seafood industry in the region. Recently, the Local fresh seafood offerings have included pollock, hake, redfish, haddock, lobsters, scallops, mussels, and oysters amongst others – look for the Local label on your next visit to a store!