This Seafood Company Could Be An Interesting Case Of Incorporating Sustainability Into A Business Model

Image provided by Blue Star Foods 

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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations in 2015 aimed for lofty goals: “End poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity.”

That’s a tall order, in large part because the goals are not binding for countries. Adding to the challenge: Accomplishment of any single goal requires progress on other goals.

“Action in one area will affect outcomes in others,” the U.N. noted when it approved the goals. “And that development must balance social, economic, and environmental sustainability… The creativity, know-how, technology and financial resources from all of society is necessary to achieve the SDGs in every context."

In an industry that includes other large-scale seafood operators such as Mowi MHGVY and Leroy Seafood Group LYSFY, Blue Star Foods’ BSFC business model could be one example of the “know-how and technology” that can help achieve the SDGs. The Florida-based international seafood company, which imports and sells pasteurized crab meat and other premium seafood, has reported integrating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles into its business model since its 1995 founding. And while that approach is good for the planet, company leadership states it’s also good for the bottom line.

"Sustainable development has been at the core of our business strategy and brand ethos,” Blue Star founder and CEO John Keeler said. “But sustainability is not just a trend or clever growth tactic; it is central to our operations, a mainstay of growth and innovation."

Blue Star documented some of those efforts in its 2020 Sustainability Report about the workings of its partner plants in South East Asia. The company’s intent was to “describe our ESG efforts to contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.” Blue Star took the added step of using the reporting framework of the Global Reporting Initiative Standards, considered the world’s most widely used for sustainability reporting.

The report offers a deep dive into myriad Blue Star innovations and their impact on SDGs. And while it notes that the “looming effects of climate change and unsustainable production are the most significant issues that we face,” it reminds that the “hardscrabble conditions of some seafood workers who work for exploitative operators is another critical concern.”

A closer look at the company’s approach to its workforce could highlight how Blue Star supports its workers and impacts four of the U.N.’s goals: “quality education”; “social and gender equality”; “decent work and economic growth;” and “industry, innovation and infrastructure.”

The workforce at Blue Star’s Southeast Asian plants is comprised of small-scale fishermen and processing plant workers. By analyzing the surrounding socio-economic conditions, Blue Star has reportedly been able to grow its fishing capacity and improve its negotiation skills. In addition, the company used blockchain technology to build a purchasing app that speeds transactions and enables harvesters to be paid directly by processing plants, thus reducing middleman costs.

The SDGs “Climate Action” and “Life Below Water” also are addressed in the report, which elaborates on company initiatives to “actively protect the marine and coastal ecosystems that sustain our crab species habitats.” Those efforts include:

The company’s leadership roles in coastal cleanups, mangrove planting programs, and education campaigns.

In recognition of the interconnectedness of the SDGs, the Blue Star report notes that its work also impacts five additional goals: “no poverty;” “zero hunger;” “reduced inequality;” “responsible consumption and production;” and “life on land.”

Some might suggest that while Blue Star’s work is admirable, the impact of one company is insignificant. CEO John Keeler begs to differ. “We don’t believe there’s such a thing as a small effort; our philosophy is about healing the planet one pound at a time."

This post contains sponsored advertising content. This content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be investing advice.

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