Sobeys puts transparency on the line

October 16, 2012  |  Rebecca Harris  |  Comments

Sobeys has launched a new campaign to let customers know about the sea-faring folks behind its seafood.

A new online video, “All on the Line,” gives viewers a personal glimpse into the daily lives of a fishing crew from one of Sobeys seafood suppliers off the coast of West Pubnico, N.S.

The two-minute black-and-white video, created by Toronto-based Entrinsic, features shots of the fishermen at sea with superimposed text introducing individual crew members such as “Captain Mark, 29. Fishes responsibly. Like reality TV” and “Colby, 22. Fishes responsibly. Has a pet hedgehog.”

The video is featured on a Sobey’s blog and Facebook page.

The campaign “taps into people’s desire to know where their seafood comes from, much like going to a farmer’s market and wanting to buy local,” said David Smith, vice-president of sustainability at Sobeys.

“All on the Line” promotes Sobey’s traceable seafood program, which it developed in 2011 in partnership with EcoTrust Canada’s Thisfish initiative, for which seafood products are uniquely coded and tracked from the time they’re caught, allowing customers to learn where it was caught and the method used to catch it.

Sobeys now tracks its sources of seafood from 220 fisheries from around the world. “We’ve got a high level of transparency about where it comes from and therefore can evaluate the relative sustainability of each of those sources and focus in on where we want to drive some action,” said Smith.

Several varieties of fresh fish and four Sensations by Compliments frozen seafood products are currently part of the Thisfish program. Customers can scan a QR code on the packaging, text or enter the details at to learn about the product’s origins, as well as learn more about the fisherman, send them a direct message, view photos of their boats and find seafood preparation tips and recipes.

Smith said Sobeys research indicated that a majority percentage of consumers are “really concerned about the future of seafood,” but are not sure how they can influence it.

“We needed a way to communicate our approach that didn’t require learning about eco-labels or memorizing wallet-sized cards with red, yellow and green lists of species that some of the NGOs are using,” said Smith. “That means doing the work for our customers to make it as easy as possible for them [to trace their fish].”

To promote the program, Sobey’s launched its “Trace and Win” contest for the chance to win Sobey’s gift cards valued at $200. Participants can submit the code on the packaging at by Nov. 21 and enter the weekly draw.

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