Sustainability Management

Individual Case 3: “Sobey’s Inc.: A Strategic Approach to Sustainable Seafood Supply (Available for purchase in the HBS Coursepack and on Lehman reserves)

 

By 2013, Sobey’s Inc., one of Canada`s largest food retailers, had initiated a number of programs to reduce its environmental footprint and to try to meet the public’s expectations that business should address such sustainability issues as waste management, genetically modified products and food safety. At the top of Sobey’s agenda was a plan to develop a sustainable seafood strategy. While data collection, metric selection, employee incentives and customer education were important parts of this emerging strategy, a key decision was determining which products to sell or not sell.

Some 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 would also eliminate its ability to push the very fisheries that needed more guidance towards better practices. Yet, to continue to sell “red zone” seafood was controversial and potentially damaging to Sobey’s standing as a leader in sustainable seafood practices. In this context, the vice-president of sustainability was asked to implement a sustainable seafood strategy by year’s end.

 

Assignment

 

The vice-president of sustainability at Sobey’s has asked you to prepare a memo to guide his upcoming presentation to the company’s chairman and other members of the executive team. You are responsible for preparing him to respond to some of their likely questions. You must convince them that the seafood strategy aligns with the company’s broader objectives. In particular, the vice-president has asked you to address the following issues:

 

  1. Describe the key elements of Sobey’s strategy in sustainable seafood. Provide a reasoned argument that this initiative is not simply “green-washing.”
  2. How do the company’s efforts in sustainable seafood address economic realities faced by Sobey’s? What are the main benefits of sustainable seafood to Sobey’s?
  3. How does Sobey’s management of the seafood value chain help and/or hinder the firm’s overall competitiveness?
    1. Recommend one modification of the existing structure, OR
    2. Defend why it should remain unchanged.

For more information on Sustainability Management read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_management

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