Finalist, Seafood Champion Awards for Leadership
Chefs Trading is a USA-based International Seafood Import/Export Company specializing in sourcing, logistics and technology. They have a 100% boots on the ground approach to sourcing the best products at fresh off the boat pricing with the logistics to reach anyone anywhere in hours. Chefs Trading is owned and operated by Chefs who care and are passionate about people and food. Social responsibility, traceability and sustainability are core to their business principles. Chefs Trading products come with trademarked CT traceability tags that trace their products back to the boat/Captain, location caught, method of harvest and much more ensuring that the product is legally harvested with a portion of sales going back to the fisheries to help support sustainability in the supply chain.
Chefs Trading developed a market support group to provide financial backing to the work toward sustainability (a FIP) being carried forward by national actors engaged in the National Sustainable Large Pelagic Fisheries Platform. In addition to the funding model, Chefs Trading provided support to the formation of the FIP by aligning market actors with national players in an innovative FIP arrangement. The importance of this work rests on its replicability, particularly with the funding model. In addition, the level of commitment demonstrated by Chef’s Trading as they dealt with the complexities of catalyzing a national-level FIP with a wide diversity of actors involved deserves recognition.
How well does this nominee and his or her work demonstrate the qualities of the category?
The Costa Rican FIP convenes all national actors in the Large Pelagics fishery in country by engaging their supply chain with the National Platform for Sustainable Large Pelagics Fisheries, an innovative dialogue forum aimed at tackling the main sustainability challenges of large pelagics fisheries in Costa Rica. Chefs Trading’s drive and enthusiasm was essential to effectively demonstrate the commercial rationale for engagement in the FIP. With such a diverse range of participants, with differing ultimate goals, the risk of inertia or failure was high and the success of the FIP forming was largely due to Chefs Tradings’ efforts in building consensus, maintaining focus and holding fellow participants to account.
In what ways has this nominee positively affected, or mitigated negative impacts of, the seafood industry?
Starting a FIP is not an easy process. In addition, complexity increases as a result of the diversity of participants engaged in the project. The Costa Rican FIP’s participants include two distributors (Trinity Seafood and Seattle Fish Co.), one importer (Chefs Trading), the exporters association CANEPP, and the concerned fishers associations (Chamber of Longliners and National Federation of Fisherfolk Organizations). Further to that, the platform in which the FIP is operating, is coordinated by the United Nations Development Programme, and participated by national NGOs and the government (fisheries authority INCOPESCA, Ministry of Environment and Energy and Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries). Chefs Trading is the main financial backer of the FIP through the use of an innovative funding scheme. The diversity of participants in the FIP is ideal to ensure the impact of the project. The seafood industry would benefit from using this case to extrapolate lessons learned. This FIP is the outcome of a great deal of diplomacy, positive attitude, commitment and willingness to move forward that can be replicated in many other cases by the seafood industry, and has been led by Chef’s Trading.
In what way do you feel this nominee’s story could inspire others and communicate successes achieved in sustainable seafood?
Seafood products from FIPs are increasingly being required by supply chain actors. However, a recent analysis by SFP has found that for the vast majority of key seafood sectors less than 50 percent of global production is either in a credible FIP or sustainable; many sectors are below 20 percent. This is despite the FIP concept being a proven initiative for nearly 10 years. In the past FIPs have tended to be driven by NGOs or large fisher organizations; there is now a much greater emphasis on vendors of seafood in developed markets to take leadership roles in initiating FIPs. This is particularly true for the smaller scale fisheries. Chefs Tradings’ efforts could be used as an effective case study to highlight how motivated vendors can drive improvements that will ultimately benefit local fisheries and communities as well as the vendors themselves by addressing existing and new customer needs.
How would the work serve as a replicable model for others who want to have a similar impact?
Initiating FIPs is not a new concept and several organizations have published guides (including the Conservation Alliance). The novel replicability of the Costa Rican Large Pelagics FIP concerns the industry-led FIP funding model developed by Chefs Trading. Resourcing is often cited as a key reason for reluctance in getting involved in FIP initiation and implementation, and the funding approach adopted by Chefs Trading offers a now “tried and tested” model for other vendors to support FIP initiation elsewhere.