Aldi Ireland becomes the first retailer to complete trial with Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s new fresh fish traceability system
Aldi is the first retailer in Ireland to test blockchain technology successfully to validate its corporate buying policy for organic and sustainably produced Irish seafood. Aldi and Verifish are participating in a pilot project with Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s seafood development agency. This project is funded under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.
Developed by Verifish and supported by BIM, the pilot blockchain project captures all information from catch through to the retail shelves. The goal of the project is to increase visibility in the supply chain bringing assurance to consumers. This will add to Aldi’s strong sustainability credentials.
Following the completion of the first phase of the pilot programme, Aldi has introduced the system to its Irish Organic Salmon and its Wild Irish Hake products. Following the programme, which runs for 12 months in two phases, Aldi aims to introduce the blockchain traceability system across its entire Irish-sourced white fish ranges by early 2021.
Aldi and its suppliers were invited by BIM to participate in the pilot programmes due to their commitment to traceability within the Wild Fishery and Aquaculture categories. Aldi is currently the only retailer in Ireland stocking 100% Irish-caught fresh wild hake across its 144 stores nationwide, which is now independently verified.
Commenting, John Curtin, Aldi’s Group Buying Director, said: “Traceability and sustainability are of the utmost importance to Aldi, and introducing this new blockchain system strengthens our already robust sourcing policies. We are committed to providing customers with the best quality product at the best price, while working with suppliers to implement sustainable sourcing policies. We can now say that the traceability of our Irish Organic Salmon and Wild Irish Hake is independently verified, giving customers further confidence in the provenance and quality of our product range.”
Jim O’Toole, CEO of Bord Iascaigh Mhara, said: “The importance of traceability across the seafood supply chain has never been higher. BIM contracted Cork based company, Verifish, to demonstrate how blockchain technology can reconnect retailers and their customers to Irish seafood’s origins. Aldi, along with their suppliers have been the first to embrace this technology. This unique approach for seafood verifies all aspects of the supply chain from where the fish was farmed or caught to its health and how it was processed. Ultimately, it gives further assurance to the customer that the Irish seafood industry adhere to high standards and that Ireland’s seafood is safe and sustainably sourced. In time, BIM hope this will become the industry standard which in our view will add value to the domestic seafood sector.”
Frank Fleming, CEO of Verifish, said: “Supporting Irish producers and processors, in both the wild capture and aquaculture sectors, creates a healthy vibrant Irish seafood industry. Fishery Improvement Projects enable all parts of the Irish seafood industry to work collaboratively on sustainability goals which protects our natural resources for future generations. We thank Aldi for their commitment to Irish seafood produce and to trialling this new blockchain technology. We also wish to thank BIM for their support in this project and their continuing support of sustainability projects which protects jobs in the catching and processing sectors”.
Aldi’s Irish fish suppliers include Morgan’s, Goodfish and Carr & Sons, which were involved in the blockchain pilot programme. All Aldi seafood is either Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), GLOBAL G.A.P., Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), or Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) verified, organic, or registered under a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP).
Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) provide a platform for seafood suppliers, buyers and fishermen to develop a strategy to improve a specific fishery by considering better policies and management over a given time period. Engagement in a FIP allows producers and processors access markets which demand sustainability and environmental credentials. The aim of a FIP is to improve sustainability within a fishery and progress to certification under the MSC. For example, for Aldi’s Wild Irish Hake to be considered sustainably caught, it must come from a FIP-registered Irish vessel, and the processors must also be registered under the programme. There are currently four FIPs in Ireland and these are supported by BIM though THE European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).