Fish and seafood

Fish and seafood are precious resources for our planet and all who live on it. This is particularly so for people in some of the poorest countries, who rely on healthy fisheries for their source of protein.

Our fish and seafood come from a wide variety of sources, including wild fisheries in oceans around the world and from fish farms that breed their own fish. Like meat and poultry, the seafood we procure is used in ready-made and frozen meals, healthcare nutrition products such as sports drinks, and especially pet food. We purchased around 130 000 tonnes of fish and seafood in 2016, most of which is for Nestlé Purina.

How we source fish and seafood

We understand the importance of having sustainable fisheries and healthy fish farms, as well as the immense challenges we all must overcome to source fish and seafood responsibly. Therefore, we work closely with our suppliers to identify, as far as possible, the sources of our fish and seafood ingredients. Our ambition is to confirm that the fish and seafood we source come from healthy fisheries or farms engaged in improvement projects. By communicating our expectations to our suppliers and following up on their progress, we will increasingly be able to assess our supply chain against our category-specific requirements for fish and seafood – for example, that there is no known sourcing from illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries and vessels, and that there is no known sourcing from operations that are not legally licensed for production and sales. We will also be able to evaluate the sustainability of seafood sources (wild and farmed) and identify projects to enhance the environmental performance of our suppliers.

To best identify the origins of fish by-products, our fish and seafood buyers work closely with their vendors to collect data on the species, country of origin and fishery from where the fish originated. We provide all this seafood purchasing information to our independent, not-for-profit NGO partner – the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) – to identify and assess the wild and farmed fisheries from which our seafood supply comes.

Sourcing fish and seafood for pet food

Identifying the precise sources for fish and seafood is difficult. For pet foods, which primarily use fish by-products, traceability is even more challenging as the typical traceability mechanisms for human edible fish do not exist. So why do we use fish by-products in our pet food? All of Nestlé Purina’s pet food products follow complete and balanced recipes that meet the nutritional needs of dogs and cats at each life stage and for many health conditions. Over 500 Nestlé Purina pet experts are behind the creation of our recipes to provide perfectly balanced pet nutrition. Some of these recipes include the use of fish by-products, which are nutrient-dense. Fish by-products are parts of a fish that remain after the fish fillets are removed for the human food supply chain. In addition to being nutritionally beneficial, the utilisation of fish by-products represents an environmentally and socially responsible practice, by using all the protein sources of a fish while not competing with the human food supply.

We are able to track about 91.7%* of our purchases of whole fish to the vessels that caught them. From there, the SFP provides assessments on the source fisheries. A large percentage of the seafood purchased for nutritious pet food products is a by-product of the process of producing fish for human consumption. Currently, we have identified 223* source fisheries, up from 153* in the previous year. Of those fisheries, 54%* were considered responsibly sourced, meaning they were low or medium risk based on scores, were certified by a recognised agency such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

Our Responsible Sourcing Guideline (pdf, 1.58Mb) (RSG) establishes a framework for continuous improvement in our wild caught and farmed seafood supply chain, building towards Responsible Sourcing.

We also recognise seafood certified by independent NGOs such as the MSC, the world’s leading certification and eco-labelling programme for sustainable seafood.

Fish and seafood supply chain challenges and solutions

Overfishing is a global issue within the supply chain. We are working with partners to address this and ensure sustainable practices are used. Labour conditions have also been acknowledged as an issue, in particular in the Thai seafood supply chain, and we are implementing a detailed action plan to tackle this. Fish feed has been identified by the SFP as a large challenge across the aquaculture industry, and feed manufacturers are taking steps to address this.

Labour conditions

Poor labour conditions has been identified as one of the issues within the fish and seafood supply chain, particular in Thailand’s fishing industry. We commissioned Verité, an independent NGO that works with companies to help understand and tackle labour issues, to investigate allegations of abuses in the Thai fishing industry. They collected information from fishing vessels, ports, mills and farms in Thailand on a range of issues, including trafficking, forced and underage labour, lack of grievance procedures, workplace conditions, and wages and benefits. Following this, we developed an action plan, based on their recommendations, to address these issues. The plan contains initiatives to protect workers from abuses. We continue to work with the Thai Government and other key stakeholders to improve labour conditions in the fish and seafood industry.


Overfishing is a key issue facing all of us. Nestlé Purina reviews all the species caught to ensure that no critically endangered, or endangered species of fish according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List are included in our seafood purchases.

Our annual objectives

Fish and seafood supply chain traceability results (for whole fish; by-product is traced only by the number of fisheries)

Fish and seafood supply chain traceability results chart. Total volume in scope: 130 000 tonnes. Percentage of volume* of whole fish that is traceable to the boat: 91.7%  (2016 target: 99%). Percentage of volume* Responsibly Sourced from one of the 223 fisheries identified by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP): 54% (2016 target: 40%)
  • Total volume in scope 130 000 tonnes
    Percentage of volume* of whole fish that is traceable to the boat 91.7% (2016 target: 99%)
    Percentage of volume* Responsibly Sourced from one of the 223 fisheries identified by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) 54% (2016 target: 40%)

    * The figure for total volume is Nestlé-wide and is the same as for 2015 as global volumes for 2016 have not been received. All other figures are for fish and seafood purchased by Nestlé Purina, which receives about 92% of the total volume.

Our progress to date

We continue to refine our data collection methods to include more data, such as the Latin names of species, to ensure consistency across global zones. We are working with SFP to better understand aquaculture risks in different world areas and the importance of zonal management systems for fish farms.

Tackling human rights abuses in the Thai seafood supply chain

Following an investigation and report (pdf, 832Kb) by our independent NGO partner Verité, we launched an action plan (pdf, 656Kb) on seafood sourced from Thailand. Focused on 10 key activities, the plan contains a series of actions designed to protect workers from abuses, improve working conditions and tackle unacceptable practices, including juvenile and teenage working. Those actions involve establishing a migrant workforce emergency response team, setting up a grievance mechanism, providing training for captains and boat owners operating in the industry, raising awareness about minimum required labour standards, establishing better traceability of raw materials and enabling verification of labour standards in fishing vessels.

The action plan was rolled out throughout 2016, with a dedicated manager based in Thailand to oversee its implementation. Alongside the Thai Government, local seafood suppliers and international buyers, we also continue to participate in the multi-stakeholder ILO Working Group, which is seeking collaborative solutions to improve labour conditions in Thailand’s complex seafood export industry.

Looking ahead

Human rights abuses have no place in our seafood supply chain. Nestlé was among the first companies to issue a comprehensive plan to work with NGO partners to address this complex issue. As part of this effort to fight human rights abuses in the seafood supply chain, Nestlé bans all fish and seafood caught from IUU (Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported) fishing. To demonstrate further our commitment to fighting human rights abuses, Nestlé Purina committed to a ban on all trans-shipments at sea (where items are transferred from one ship to another) at the end of 2016, and we are updating our RSG to include this prohibition. Trans-shipments at sea enable rogue fishing vessels to engage in IUU fishing and other illegal activities by not returning to port for extended periods of time, up to several years in some cases. We believe the worst forms of human rights abuses may occur aboard such vessels because of the lack of regulation, enforcement and transparency offshore. Due to the opaque nature of offshore fishing practices and worker treatment on vessels, Nestlé Purina supports banning all trans-shipments as a step towards eliminating IUU fishing and preventing human rights abuses at sea.

* All 2016 data is for Purina only, not the whole of Nestlé.

Related content