Northern Wind gets ‘fair trade’ nod for fresh scallops in Hy-Vee partnership

New Bedford, Massachusetts scallop distributor and processor Northern Wind has received certification from non-profit Fair Trade USA for fresh scallops. The processor has placed the scallops in stores run by the midwest grocer Hy-Vee, a longtime Northern Wind customer.
The status goes a step beyond other sustainability frameworks like the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to consider social and labor aspects of trade, George Kouri, the company's co-CEO, told Undercurrent News.
Under the concept of "fair trade," the growing conditions of products typically seen as commodities such as coffee or bananas are monitored by a third-party and assessed to higher labor and social standards than those that would otherwise occur in the market. Small-scale producers are often paid higher wages for the products, which are marketed accordingly and carry a premium price.
In the case of scallops -- which have enjoyed strong pricing lately -- some of the proceeds from the fair trade system will go to fund community projects, education, the Fisheries Survival Fund and other worthy efforts, Kouri said.
“We think these things are important and think that consumers will see it that way too," he said.
He added that the certification process was rigorous and took months to obtain, in part because a portion of vessels supplying Northern Wind, 20 to 30, also had to meet the requirements.
“it’s a really, really difficult certification to obtain. Unlike MSC, the certification requirements cover a whole spectrum within the seafood sector,” Kouri said.