Jul 04, 2019

Feature Story

Protect Marine Life with Corporate Cafeterias - Sustainable Seafood Initiatives

In just the last 50 years, the world's population roughly doubled. However, seafood consumption increased 5-fold, far outpacing the catches fishermen pull from the sea. The gap between supply and demand is made up with aquaculture. Given the situation and wanting to help "conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development" as advocated by the 14th Sustainable Development Goal adopted by the United Nations in 2015, Panasonic is serving "Sustainable Seafood" at several of its employee cafeterias because sustainable production and consumption is a good start to protecting marine resources.

"Sustainable Seafood" is seafood that is managed and traceable through the processing, distribution and sales processes it is subjected to in addition to being sustainably produced (caught or farmed). Certifications are given for that. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Japan recommends MSC certification to wild-caught marine products and ASC certification for farm-raised marine products.*

* MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certifies sustainably and appropriately managed fisheries, while ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council) certifies responsible aquaculture practices that minimize harm to the environment and society. In both cases, products and suppliers are audited against stringent standards by a third-party certifying organization.

image: MSC certification label

MSC certification label

image: ASC certification label

ASC certification label

Panasonic has been conducting activities to "conserve marine environment" in cooperation with the WWF Japan for about 20 years. It joined hands again with the WWF Japan and suppliers when the opportunity recently presented itself to support environment-friendly aquaculture that had begun in the southern Sanriku area in 2014, by becoming the first company headquartered in Japan to serve sustainable seafood at two of its employee cafeterias in March 2018. The company has continued to source sustainable marine products that have been minimizing the environmental impact for its cafeterias, serving it at twenty locations as of June 2019.

Panasonic has gone a step further than simply putting sustainable seafood on its cafeteria menus by educating its hungry workforce about the significance of sustainable seafood and certification marks via flyers, posters and videos. It seems to have worked as supplies sell out every time, suggesting, one, that employees have sympathized with the cause and, two, it tastes good.

Panasonic's global workforce tops 270,000. Because it started serving sustainable seafood, a large number of its employees have come to know of its importance, which it is hoping will spark a change in consumer behavior where, in their private lives away from the office, its employees will spontaneously choose products that are similarly certified. The goal is thus to contribute to society's evolution towards sustainability and achieve the UN's SDGs.

A sustainable seafood trend has begun amongst other companies who have heard about what Panasonic is doing. Denso Corp., a global company with 170,000 people in its corporate group, learned about Panasonic's activities and similarly started feeding its workforce sustainable seafood at its cafeterias, too. The sustainable seafood is getting good reviews from employees and kitchen staff who prepare the menus are increasingly more motivated to use it.

With more needed to be done to augment the social impact, Panasonic will continue to push sustainable practices inside and outside the company with ideas and activities that support sustainable producers and expand sustainable consumption.

United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals

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