GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Aug. 31, 2016 (PRNewswire) — The partnership between Meijer and Great Lakes commercial fishing company, La Nassa Foods, began on a handshake nearly two decades ago and continues to thrive today based on a mutual commitment to provide Meijer customers with the highest quality lake fish.
As a result, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer is able to offer customers at each of its 230 stores across the Midwest with nearly 500,000 pounds of Lake Erie walleye, yellow perch and other lake species each year.
"Meijer has a strong commitment to supporting local efforts, especially when it comes to sourcing quality food for our customers. This extends to the hardworking fishermen who fish the Great Lakes for us nearly every day," Meijer Seafood Buyer David Wier said. "We are pleased that our partnership with La Nassa Foods continues to thrive because they are local and their commitment to fresh, quality fish matches our own."
Today, it's the longest-running partnership Meijer has with a local fishing company, which harvests from Lake Erie daily and delivers the catch to the Meijer Distribution Facility in southeast Michigan four days a week.
The partnership has also led La Nassa to grow from three fishing vessels and 35 employees to 11 vessels and 105 employees over the past 18 years, said Tony Giacalone, president of La Nassa Foods.
"In 1998, La Nassa was the smallest processor on Lake Erie. With the many years of Meijer's support in promoting lake fish, we have grown to become the largest processor on the lake," Giacalone said. "Meijer has always recognized the importance of lake fish, and sells more walleye and perch than any other retailer around the Great Lakes states. From day one, our commitment to Meijer was to provide quality fish with good service at competitive prices."
A key to the partnership, Wier said, is La Nassa's alignment with the retailer's sustainable seafood policy that not only focuses on providing customers with the highest quality seafood, but offering seafood products that are caught and farmed in the most responsible and sustainable way.
The walleye and yellow perch caught by La Nassa for Meijer are certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, an independent nonprofit organization that sets sustainable fishing standards.
"Just as we encourage recycling, less packaging and energy-saving practices in our stores to lessen our footprint, we recognize that there are steps that can be taken to ensure the seafood we provide our customers was harvested in an environmentally responsible manner," Wier said. "That's incredibly important to the future of our business, but also to the livelihoods of the fishermen we work with and the health of our lake ecosystems."