Fair trade certification status, which is conferred by independent groups to denote environmental sustainability and fair working conditions, has been around for years. But it's just now on the rise among seafood products in the U.S., where consumer interest in the story behind the fish and shellfish they eat is growing.
Certification of seafood products, including tuna and shrimp, began in 2014, and the volume of imports of such products grew more than 350 percent last year to more than 1.2 million pounds (500,000 kilograms), said Fair Trade USA, a California-based nonprofit group. The first company to offer fair trade seafood harvested from U.S. waters will have scallops on the market this month.
The company, Bristol Seafood of Portland, Maine, is looking to capitalize on the growing interest in authenticity of seafood, said its president, Peter Handy.
"There's a certain sanctity to food when it comes to the story about it," he said. "It tastes better the more you know."
Independent groups, including Fair Trade USA, provide certifications to a host of products that people buy in stores, ranging from fruit and nuts to home goods. The certification is most commonly associated with coffee, which launched the fair trade movement in the 1990s.
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