Sustainability Series: Oregon Seafood and Sea Fare Pacific
May 28, 2012
Owner Mike Babcock launched Oregon Seafoods in 2010 after 18 years in the sawmill industry. In 2011, he introduced Sea Fare Pacific products to the food industry with the goal of bringing high-quality, wild-caught, sustainable Pacific albacore tuna to consumers. Sea Fare Pacific products – four varieties of wild caught albacore tuna sold in an environmentally friendly pouch – are currently sold across Oregon in nearly 20 specialty foods stores and nationally with independent retailers like REI. We talked to Babcock about the great tasting appeal of environmentally farmed seafood.
How does your business define sustainability?
In the ocean, when it pertains to the fish we process, we believe it is the ability of the fish to self perpetuate on a healthy platform; from an operations standpoint, it is using our resources wisely and not being wasteful. Oregon Seafoods supports standards that promote certified sustainable efforts such as Dolphin Safe, Line Caught, BPA Free and Small Footprint. It also promotes West Coast fishing families, which includes line-catching its albacore off the pristine Oregon, Washington and California coastlines one at a time with a hook and line to keep the earth and ecosystem safe.
How are you incorporating sustainable practices into your business?
By choosing packaging and process methods that have the least environmental impact and choosing to only purchase seafood from sustainable fisheries. We also look at our gas and electric usage and try to incorporate common sense as well as technology that will help reduce energy consumption.
What are your short term and long term goals?
Our short term goals are to manage our resources and cut energy usage where we can. Our long term goals are to create a culture within our workplace that everybody is part of. When everybody is on board, there comes a level of accountability that the culture creates which becomes essential to accomplish our goals.
Where do you think you’ll have the biggest impact?
We will have the greatest impact on helping shape the attitudes of our employees and vendors. And, once the culture is developed, it will essentially have an influence on everybody that comes in contact with our company in one fashion or another.
How do you measure your progress?
That's a tough one. When we see our company as a whole making good decisions and not bowing to the temptation to go outside of our principles – we can feel good about our progress and know that we are doing our part.
How do retailers factor into your efforts?
There are retailers that seem to espouse the same ideas and values, yet when it comes to money or profit potential, the cheaper “less earth friendly product” gets the nod. We do, however, have many independent retailers with like minded business owners that do walk the talk and put a high priority on sustainability. From a practical level, we are evaluating the best method of product movement to satisfy the retailer and still minimize our footprint.
Why are sustainable business practices important to the food industry?
The food industry through "modern business practices" has allowed our food supply to get polluted. As time goes on, this cheaper food will attract many unaware consumers, and the impact on their health and their family's health will be tragic. We need to focus on sustainable food practices and set up programs to help these companies succeed (that put a priority on sustainable solutions) which would allow more opportunity for consumers to purchase healthy wholesome food in the future.
Why are sustainable business practices important to the consumer?
These practices should be important to all as they affect the quality of life for future generations. We believe the consumer that is concerned about sustainable solutions is a forward thinking person who cares about the future and needs to be congratulated.
In upcoming issues, we will feature interviews with food companies that are making strides in their sustainability efforts. If you are interested in telling us more about what your company is doing to get involved please contact Allison Bloom firstname.lastname@example.org.