Benchmarking Sustainability Reporting & Transparency in the Global Seafood Chain
Of ‘Sustainability’, ‘Responsibility’, Ethics, Governance, Transparency… Leadership… in the Global Seafood Supply Chain
As part of this ongoing project Seafood Intelligence/Bertrand Charron strived to monitor the various dynamics which will ultimately make the salmon farming/seafood industries environmentally more sustainable, transparent and accountable.
Of social, environmental and financial transparency, ethics & accountability in the seafood supply chain. A metric & transparency-based assessment of how responsible the most powerful –– and most impactful — seafood / salmon companies are. And how to they aim to address (if at all) the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)… The Seafood Intelligence yearly benchmarks….
PS, April 2018: We are pleased to announce that whilst Seafood Intelligence’s ‘Top 100’ & ‘Salmon Industry’ yearly transparency benchmark project has temporarily been halted post-2018, all of the data supporting the latest Seafood Intelligence benchmarks have now also been made available to researchers from the Stockholm Resiliency Centre working with the Keystone Dialogues and the Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship (SeaBOS) in their substantial endeavour to contribute to the UN SDG14 and, among other goals, elicit greater transparency in the global seafood trade. http://keystonedialogues.earth/#initiative
See also the Testimonials by some of the world’s leading companies: http://www.seafoodintell.com/?page_id=18
To assist in assessing the quantity/quality of the information made proactively available and needed for one to compose an informed view of one corporation’s ‘sustainability’ credentials, Seafood Intelligence has since 2010 worked-on and developed a benchmark to measure yearly the achievements and deficiencies of the global farmed salmon and seafood sectors when it comes to Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR) with a strong focus on the ‘Environment/Sustainability’ dimension (thus… ‘CSER’; a.k.a. “sustainability”). One of the yearly benchmarks’ aim is to assist industry players – small & large – and their stakeholders navigate on the fast-moving ‘sustainability’ scene — via the sustainability reporting tools — and help assess companies and their peers in terms of transparency & their respective sustainability policies and endeavours.
By focusing on transparency, companies responsible for the exploitation of a significant proportion of the world’s fisheries resources — with the potential environmental impacts which this entail — can demonstrate to their stakeholders and society at-large, that they care about ‘sustainability’ and are continuously striving to improve and mitigate negative impacts; and can be thus ‘trusted’ to do so. To avoid accusations of greenwashing / bluewashing, stated ‘sustainability’ intentions and claims only become credible if they are backed by measurable deeds and by proactively providing transparent access to monitoring data. Transparency is an essential driver to the seafood industry’s social license to operate (SLO).
How well do the world’s ‘Top 100’ Seafood companies (in US$ sales turnover terms) address the “Seafood Ethics and Sustainability Challenge”?
An introduction to Seafood Intelligence‘s latest Report & Analysis
January 31, 2017: The 2nd [and last] edition of the ‘Top 100 Seafood Firms’ Transparency Benchmark’ is now out! Complete with an entirely revised methodology also making the parallel with corporate sustainability reporting / KPIs (including GRI G4 indicators) and the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The report – a hefty 1,580 pages (vs. ‘only’ 1,117 pages for the tentative 2015 edition) – comes in three volumes containing several hundreds of data-rich tables, matrices & comparative tables. It follows on the footsteps of the similar yearly (since 2011) benchmarking exercise which focuses on the world’s Salmon Farming Industry which has now become the industry’s ‘sustainability transparency’ reference.
This year sees the Top 5% ranked in the “Excellent!” Transparency category ([Corporate, Social and Environmental Reporting rating] CSERr > 70/100); 5 firms vs. 4 in 2015: +1); 11% in the “Very Good” Transparency category (CSERr [50-70[); 21% in the “Can do Better” Transparency category (CSERr [30-50/100[); 49% in the “Poor to Very poor!” Transparency Category (CSER [0.01-30[); and 14% in the “Absolutely Nil” Transparency Category (CSER = 0.00)… Overall, a lot of work needs doing if the seafood industry is to live up to consumers’ expectations when it comes to seafood sustainability and ‘ethics’.
The ‘Top 100’ 2016 report which features 35 Asian firms (25 of which headquartered in Japan), 20 North American firms (17 from the USA), 17 from the EU, 11 from Norway, 6 from South America, etc… is the second edition of an annual comparative benchmark of the global seafood industry’s transparency; rating them against a set of 135 key performance indicators (KPIs) linked to ‘sustainability reporting’ in the seafood realm, thus constituting a ‘transparency audit’ of sorts for each company. Assessments and comparisons are made by sector [Aquaculture; Wild Catch Fisheries; Fish Feed/Meal/oil; Seafood Processing/Trade], country of headquarter, continents/regions, type of company (stock listed: 51/100; Private: 48; Government-owned: 1); type of reporting (GRI-G4 indexed-reporting, Annual/Integrated), Main species Tuna / Salmon, etc…
Overall, 16 companies (i.e. 16%) stand out for a ‘very good’ to ‘excellent’ transparency record (which can and should nonetheless be improved upon); led by [11/16] firms in the ‘aquaculture’ [particularly salmon farming/feed] category. [Only] 16 companies (not always the same…) are reporting annually according to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G4 guidelines.
Considering that a quarter (25) of the world’s largest firms are Japan-headquartered, it is troubling [notably for Japanese stakeholders] that the country is the one performing ‘least well’ in terms of transparency. Norway is the country represented by 3 or more firms which averages the best transparency record (almost ‘very good’ in average), with the global ranking nonetheless headed by a Japanese-owned salmon Norwegian company [Cermaq, to be specific, is #1 of the Top 100]. Also worthy of attention — or perhaps ‘troubling’ for those with high transparency expectations in the US/North American seafood market — is the fact that only 1 out of 20 [5%] of the Top 100 North American seafood firms (17 in USA, 3 Canadian) has a ‘very good’ sustainability reporting record; with all other [95%] N. American firms considerably lacking (at various degrees) transparency… It would be unfair to single out North America (not so if one has higher expectations there) as transparency is globally sorely lacking for well over half of the world’s largest firms. It is the latter firms however which provide much of the world’s retailers’ seafood…
As another illustration of the many uses which can be made of the data contained in the report, Seafood Intelligence draws a yearly ‘Red List’ of some of the important topics least-reported/discussed upon by the world’s ‘Top 100 Seafood’ firms; i.e. those [very important] topics on which the seafood industry is least transparent (scroll down below).
In all: 67,500 individual ratings (675 per company) were carried out one-by-one, following a thorough assessment of all available material made public online via their corporate websites by the world’s Top 100 seafood firms up-until October 31, 2016.
A holistic approach — and the compiling, tracing and disclosing of seafood supply chain data [for example re. Österblom et al (2015)] — can also be credited for the coming-together of some of the world’s largest / ‘keystone’ seafood players in the December 2016-launched initiative called “Seafood Business Ocean Stewardship” — a.k.a. the “Keystone Dialogues” — which aims to “clear-out IUU fisheries, inhumane working conditions and overall “change the international fishing industry.” This is a welcome initiative which we will follow with great interest in months and years to come. Four of the eight major companies taking part in the Keystone Dialogues (i.e. half) also play a pivotal role in the Global Salmon Initiative (GSI)… All 8 firms taking part in the “Keystone Dialogues” are also featured in this ‘Top 100’ benchmark.
Wouldn’t it also be great to see those eight ‘Keystone’ firms display a standard for transparency in the seafood supply chain (also a – public – warrant of ‘traceability’ and ‘good ethical behaviour’), backed – say – by an annual (then quarterly if not dashboard-styled ‘live’) publication of ‘keystone dialogues participants’ sustainability report…? The ‘keystone’ status of those firms and their respective positions in the global seafood chain could certainly help the uptake of such transparency standard in the wider seafood industry… No doubt a win-win not only for human rights, seafood sustainability, ocean governance; but also in terms of the social-licence-to-operate it would grant a transparent and sustainable industry, and with it: economic sustainability (never mind ‘food security’) rewards…
PS: June 8, 2017 #WorldOceansDay:
The transparency data compiled can be analysed in a multiplicity of ways, for example, following is the RED LIST  of least-discussed seafood sustainability topics by the world’s ‘Top 100’:
This, and much, MUCH, more in the 1580-page Seafood Intelligence 2016 ‘Top 100’ benchmarking report.
Beyond being full of useful comparative information & content for seafood retailers and industry stakeholders in general, the Top 100 benchmarking report can also help firm’s CSR/Sustainability policies & communication in the seafood business (see the Testimonials to see how some of the firms have communicated in the past year; and how they have discussed their rankings in annual report / media & press releases: http://www.seafoodintell.com/?page_id=18). Industry leaders, C-suite executives in private & stock-listed companies, large NGOs & Eco-Certification bodies, Institutions, Foundations and International Retailers, among others, have purchased the reports.
Article by Bertrand Charron, SeafoodIntelligence.com editor of the ‘Seafood Intelligence 2016 Benchmarking Report of the World’s Top 100 Seafood Firm’s Sustainability Reporting & Transparency’ published February 7, 2017.
March 8, 2017, International Women’s Day #IWD2017:
Could monitoring how ‘fair’ the world’s main seafood firms are with their employees & how their corporate policies consider women’s role lead to improved gender equality?
This, and so much more… [last updated March 22, 2017]
AIMS… Seafood Intelligence hopes that…
- By focusing on transparency, companies responsible for the exploitation of a significant proportion of the world’s fisheries resources — with the potential environmental impacts which this entail — can demonstrate to their stakeholders and society at-large, that they care about ‘sustainability’ and are continuously striving to improve and mitigate negative impacts; and can be thus ‘trusted’ to do so. To avoid accusations of greenwashing, stated ‘sustainability’ intentions and claims only become credible if they are backed by measurable deeds and by proactively providing transparent access to monitoring data. Transparency is an essential driver to the seafood industry’s social license to operate.
- The Seafood Intelligence ‘Top 100’ benchmarking report is designed to help key seafood industry players, retailers, environmental organisations and all stakeholders interested in assessing the level of proactive/voluntary transparency & communication endeavours displayed by top seafood firms worldwide when it comes to corporate, social and environmental sustainability reporting.
- This report will help seafood companies aspiring to a higher level of sustainability reporting to compare – by topics & specific indicators – & benchmark their performances (where noted) and transparency with that of their competitors and leaders in the field…
- This report identifies Top 100 seafood firms’ major lacks in transparency, and specifically highlights and comments many of the issues left wanting from a third party and objective viewpoint.
- This benchmarking report will help seafood firms devise their first Sustainability Report (and consider GRI-G4 reporting) and gain precious time by learning from the best reporting practices in the industry; and provide them with many useful tips & much information.
- This benchmarking report will provide thoughts to aquaculture firms aiming for ASC certification with a benchmark & check list of sort re. disclosures and topics to be addressed.
- This report provides stakeholders, retailers / buyers, analysts & investors with a snapshot of the 2015 & 2016 (statements & disclosures monitored up to October-November 2016) seafood industry trends and available data. It provides context-setting information regarding the global salmon market and some of the challenges it faces.
- This report provides seafood industry organizations, authorities and eNGOs with a good overview of the current status of the global seafood “sustainability” debate; and gives them an insight into key industry decision-makers’ positions and expectations. It will also help them map-out areas of ethical risks re. the salmon industry.
- The Seafood Intelligence ‘Top 100’ benchmarking report provides all stakeholders with ‘[sea]food for thoughts’ over the current Sustainability status of the industry, over how various players report and/or perhaps should report and will help firms & industry organizations and officials also assess how other parts of the world are dealing with the challenges they are facing.
The latest ‘Top 100’ report from Seafood Intelligence and the world’s only (yep!) such benchmark looking comprehensively and comparatively into the world’s largest seafood companies’ sustainability performances and disclosures (transparency) has now been released. Besides looking in-depth at the communication and CSR / Sustainability policies re. key indicators which may help companies address sustainability and reputational issues, the report constitutes an invaluable source of information regarding each company, corporate governance, sales figures, latest M&As, , etc. and thus represents a unique ‘Who’s Who’ of the leading companies, decision-makers and influencers. This second edition of the ‘Top 100 contains’ 1580 pages (1st edition was ‘only’ 1117-pages) packed-full of information, sustainability quotes, analysis, indexed data and disclosures re. 135 sustainability KPIs, and many comparative tables enabling companies to compare their performances to that of their peers and +/- competitors.
- 13,500 [very] specific disclosures (or non-) and (often) ‘performances’ were monitored, commented and rated.
- In all: 67,500 individual ratings (675 per company) were carried out one-by-one, following a thorough assessment of all available material made public online via their corporate websites by the world’s Top 100 seafood firms up-until October 31, 2016.
The Top 100 is thus a ‘must-have’ yearly tool for any company/C-suite exec. concerned about what perception their clients and stakeholders may have of them; and a very useful one for any Sustainability Director/companies willing to improve and/or embark on +/- GRI G4-indexed sustainability reporting…
If you’re interested in getting a copy, drop me an email [editor [@] seafoodintelligence.com] or call; or go here for more information: http://www.seafoodintell.com/?page_id=16
NB: This work is not funded by any entity, government, agency, foundation / NGO, industry or other organisation. Seafood Intelligence relies solely on the proceeds of the reports’ sale to carry out this research & work; please ‘pass the word’ to anyone whom you feel may be interested in the Seafood Industry Transparency Benchmark work.
2017 Prices Sustainability Reporting Benchmarking Reports (‘Top 100 Seafood Firms’+/- ‘Top 35 / Farmed Salmon Industry’), Prices in EUROs/€ (updated July 2017) 2 options:
- €1,875for unlimited user licence within same company (exclusive Pdf version) for one of the two benchmark reports: ‘Top 100 Seafood’ 2016 or ‘Top 35 / Farmed Salmon Industry’ 2017; stipulate which one.
- €2,700 for last two editions (2016 and 2017) of the ‘Top 35 Salmon Farming & Feed Industry’ ..
VAT Note: for those located in the EU: prices above + VAT @20% applies, unless your VAT# is provided (you will then be exempted from paying intra-EU VAT [‘Auto Liquidation’]).
Contact “editor – at – seafoodintelligence – dot -com”
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