Do you ever wonder where the tilapia you buy at Publix comes from?
With over 90% of seafood in the US being imported, it’s important to know where your food is coming from and how it’s being sourced.
Publix, a popular supermarket chain in the southeastern United States, has been making strides in promoting sustainable and responsible seafood sourcing. But what about their tilapia specifically?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at where Publix sources their tilapia from and how it’s farmed.
Where Does Publix Tilapia Come From?
Publix sources their tilapia from PezCo Aquafarming, a company based in Colombia. PezCo opened in 2014 and now accounts for about a third of tilapia imports from Colombia to the United States.
The company partners with Piscícola Botero, a major Colombian tilapia producer, to raise their fish on farms in Colombia. The country’s fresh, sweet water is ideal for aquaculture, and Colombia ranks fourth in the world for freshwater resources.
PezCo ships black tilapia, their main product, to customers including Publix and Costco. They also recently expanded their products to include rainbow trout, shrimp, crab, and red tilapia.
The floating enclosures where PezCo raises their fish are placed close to airports offering nonstop flights to California and Miami. This allows the cargo to arrive in 32 to 72 hours, ensuring the fish stays fresh during transportation.
The Importance Of Knowing Where Your Seafood Comes From
It’s important to know where your seafood comes from for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it ensures that you are getting a high-quality product that is safe to eat. When you know where your seafood comes from, you can be sure that it was raised or caught in a sustainable and responsible manner.
Additionally, knowing where your seafood comes from helps support local economies and small-scale fishers. By choosing to buy seafood from companies that prioritize sustainability and ethical practices, you are contributing to the growth of these businesses and helping to ensure that they can continue to operate in the future.
Finally, knowing where your seafood comes from allows you to make informed decisions about the types of fish you consume. Some species are overfished or are caught using environmentally damaging methods, so by choosing to buy seafood from sustainable sources, you can help protect these vulnerable species and preserve the health of our oceans.
At Publix, they take the sourcing of their seafood seriously and work with partners like PezCo Aquafarming to ensure that their products are responsibly sourced and meet strict sustainability standards. By choosing to buy seafood from companies like these, you can be confident that you are getting a high-quality product that was raised or caught in an environmentally responsible manner.
Publix’s Commitment To Sustainable Seafood Sourcing
Publix is committed to sustainable seafood sourcing and has taken several steps to ensure that their seafood products meet rigorous sustainability standards. The company works closely with seafood suppliers and producers to develop Fishery and Aquaculture Improvement Projects (FIPs) that focus on building agreements for improvements in policies, marine conservation measures, fishing and fish-farming practices.
In addition, Publix has made a $40,000 donation to the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership for the 12th year in a row. The company also plans to work with the organization to understand and analyze current fishing practices in the supply chain. Publix has contributed a total of $480,000 to support the organization and has become the first U.S. retailer to join with Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, BirdLife International, and Whale and Dolphin Conservation to review and understand the risks from the unintended catch of ocean wildlife in the seafood sourcing supply chain.
Publix’s commitment to sustainable seafood sourcing is also evident in their new blue (responsibly sourced), green (sustainably sourced), and GreenWise sustainably sourced seafood labels. These labels are an invitation for customers to learn about why making sustainable seafood choices is important. The labels mean that the seafood has met rigorous sustainability standards set by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) and Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI).
Moreover, Publix is investing in fisheries to give customers access to more sustainable choices and help standardize sustainable fishing practices across the industry. The company partners with SFP to address problems such as accidentally catching turtles while fishing for shrimp. Publix contributed $40,000 to help get inspectors onto boats and evaluate how Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) were being installed and used. After identifying problems and demonstrating proper usage and techniques, they were able to help bring over 90% of the fleet up to compliance.
The Farming Methods Used For Publix Tilapia
PezCo Aquafarming, the company that supplies Publix with tilapia, uses modern and sustainable farming methods to ensure the quality of their fish. The company employs high-volume systems to control food, light, and growth stimulation. They also use genetic engineering to accelerate growth and improve the quality of their fish.
Unlike some fish farms that rely on constant water changes, PezCo uses advanced filtration and treatment methods to maintain the cleanliness of their ponds. This reduces the need for excessive water changes and ensures that the water remains healthy for the fish.
PezCo also prioritizes responsible and sustainable farming practices. They do not use hormones or antibiotics in their fish’s food or water. Instead, they rely on natural methods to ensure the health and well-being of their fish.
Quality And Safety Standards For Publix Tilapia
Publix tilapia is subject to strict quality and safety standards, which are monitored by various federal agencies in the United States. These agencies include the Food and Drug Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
All farms that supply seafood products to the United States, including PezCo Aquafarming, undergo regular inspections to ensure that they follow feeding regulations, sanitation procedures, and record maintenance. These inspections help to ensure that the tilapia is raised in a clean environment and is safe for human consumption.
It is important to note that not all tilapia is created equal. While tilapia from China is known to be dangerous due to poor farming practices and the use of illegal antimicrobials and antibiotics, tilapia from countries such as the USA, Canada, Ecuador, Peru, the Netherlands, Indonesia, Mexico, Honduras, Colombia, and Taiwan are considered safe options.
PezCo Aquafarming raises their tilapia in Colombia, where the country’s freshwater resources provide an ideal environment for aquaculture. The company partners with a major Colombian tilapia producer to raise their fish on farms that are subject to strict quality and safety standards.
Conclusion: Making Informed Choices About Your Seafood Purchases
When it comes to purchasing seafood, it is important to make informed choices. As the demand for wild seafood continues to exceed the global supply, many supermarkets turn to farmed seafood, or aquaculture, to meet customer demand. Publix Super Markets, for example, sources their seafood domestically whenever possible, but will turn to imported seafood if necessary.
To help customers make informed choices about their seafood purchases, Publix has collaborated with the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership and Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative. Products that meet strict SFP and GSSI standards will be labeled as “responsibly sourced” or “sustainably sourced” at the full-service seafood counter and on shelf tags in the frozen seafood display case. This allows shoppers to identify which seafood purchases come from a sustainable source or are responsibly raised or caught.
It is important to note that “responsibly sourced” signifies that wild-caught seafood is considered managed by the SFP or in a credible, graded fishery improvement project (FIP), while farm-raised products qualify for a GSSI-approved ecolabel or an aquaculture improvement project (AIP) or may be certified at the hatchery, plant and/or feed levels. On the other hand, “sustainably sourced” denotes that wild-caught seafood qualifies for a GSSI-approved ecolabel, was evaluated by the SFP and is considered well managed, and that all four levels of the supply chain for farm-raised items – farm, hatchery, plant, and feed – qualify for a GSSI-approved ecolabel.
By choosing products labeled as responsibly or sustainably sourced, customers can help support sustainable fishing practices and promote healthier oceans. Additionally, it is important to research the sources of your seafood and look for companies that prioritize sustainability and responsible fishing practices.