Sobey's Inc: A Strategic Approach to Sustainable Seafood Supply
(7 pages of text)
By 2013, Sobey’s Inc., one of Canada`s largest food retailers, had initiated a number of programs in order to reduce its environmental footprint and to try to meet the public’s expectations that business would address such sustainability issues as waste management, genetically modified products and food safety. At the top of Sobey’s agenda was to develop a sustainable seafood strategy. While data collection, metric selection, employee incentives and customer education were important parts of this emerging strategy, a central decision was what products to choose to sell or not to sell. Certain major competitors had announced that they would sell only “certified sustainable” seafood, an approach strongly advocated by well-known environmental organizations. Sobey’s, on the other hand, decided that to abandon uncertified seafood would not only hamper its bottom line but also would eliminate its ability to push the very fisheries that needed more guidance towards better practices. Yet, to continue to sell “red zone” seafood was very controversial and could jeopardize Sobey’s standing as a leader in sustainable practices — an outcome that could have serious negative consequences in the marketplace. In this context, the vice-president of sustainability had to implement a sustainable seafood strategy by year’s end.
The case can be used in courses on global strategy, business strategy, marketing and social enterprise in order to:
- Examine social responsibility as an aspect of strategy in an international context.
- Explore the concept of managing a sustainable supply chain as an element of competition.
- Explore how managerial choices have an impact on a firm’s market messaging.
- Focus on the concept of sustainability and how established businesses are trying to figure out their response to these critical questions.
Canada, Large, 2013
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