Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sodexo Defends MSC Choice, Will Consider Alternatives

It wasn’t a promise to purchase, but one to reconsider how Sodexo sources seafood to feed millions of people under government and private entity contracts in the United States that the international food contractor offered up in late August.

George Chavel, president and chief executive officer of Sodexo USA told Alaska's US Senator Mark Begich Aug. 22 that his company would be willing to consider alternative chain-of custody arrangements ‘in conjunction with the external organizations that help ensure our commitment to sustainability is both based on robust science and responds to our customer demand.”

Sodexo USA is an affiliate of the international French food contractor Sodexo, which does billions of dollars in business in the United States. Begich contacted Chavel after hearing reports that Sodexo USA only sources seafood certified by the London-based Marine Stewardship Council.

Begich told Chavel “Alaska wrote the book on sustainable fisheries and we don’t need outsiders to tell us how to manage our stocks.”

Chavel said his company is continuing to actively monitor the state of sustainable fish and seafood to ensure that their sourcing practices support the world’s fish and seafood industry and the livelihoods of fishermen and women for many years to come. Chavel noted that in 2012, his company purchased some 6 million pounds of seafood from Alaska, including 237,220 pounds of chum salmon.

“While we know that most of the salmon fisheries from Alaska meet MSC requirements, and we are proud to source from them, we have no way to assure ourselves, our clients, and our customers unless the processor also has MSC chain-of-custody certification,” he said.

The correspondence between Begich and Chavel is the latest round in a controversy over who certifies Alaska’s fisheries as sustainable. Last year the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute introduced its own third party sustainability certification program offer with Global Trust.

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