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Phillips Foods environmental efforts are ahead of the tides

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By Laura Toraldo

(Aug. 15, 2017 – OCEAN CITY, Md.) -- In 1956 Brice and Shirley Phillips opened their first Eastern Shore restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland, capitalizing on a surplus of crabs at a Hoopers Island processing plant. Decades later, Phillips Foods’ resourcefulness extends to its commitment to sustainability.

As a worldwide food manufacturer with over 19 restaurant locations, Phillips Foods is vertically integrated to ensure a dependable, safe product supply. The company owns and manages all of its crab, seafood, and fish processing plants throughout southeast Asia, as well as its original plant in Maryland. 

“Because of our dedication to sustaining worldwide fish populations, sustainability is at the forefront of everything we do,” said Phillips Foods Director of Foodservice and Retail Marketing Keely Dziuban.

For example, in 2009, Phillips Foods launched its first sustainable aquaculture facility off the northwest coast of Bali, Indonesia. The project, called Bali Barramundi, provides a sustainable source of barramundi, also known as Asian sea bass. Environmental consciousness was at its core. The company cleans the cages regularly and does not use anti-foulants because they can affect water quality. It powers the cages with wind turbines and solar panels. The barramundi are hand-fed an organic diet to prevent overfeeding, and Phillips maintains a low-density stock rate to raise healthier fish.

“We’re proud that our stocking densities are half the industry average,” said Dziuban.

But that’s not where Phillips stops seeking solutions to seafood industry challenges.

CEO Steve Phillips said he saw a decline in the size of crabs overseas, so he helped to established the NFI Crab Council, an association of U.S. seafood companies dedicated to crab sustainability. The council sponsors projects throughout southeast Asia, working with in-country businesses, NGOs and government organizations to identify fishery needs. It also helps create and implement Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) to further bolster crab stocks. 

In addition, the council creates crab hatcheries, gear exchange programs, sustainability outreach and education. It also sets source standards and conducts fishery stock assessments. 

Beyond the council, Phillips Foods has taken part in an oyster recovery program as well as the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership. Both organizations are dedicated to constructive approaches to seafood sustainability and industry challenges. 

Phillips said it all boils down to the fundamental principles of their business. 

“Having the ability to provide for the needs of the world’s current population without damaging the ability of future generations to provide for themselves is essential to our mission.”