Sustainable Seafood

Woodbury Seafood Manager Darryl holding up a fresh fillet of salmon at the Seafood counter

Even though we're 1,000 miles away from the nearest ocean, we are only hours away from fresh seafood. Kowalski’s seafood is the freshest in the Twin Cities, guaranteed! We receive daily shipments of seafood from around the world and offer 10-20 varieties of fresh fish daily, up to 40 choices in all. We can also fulfill special orders within 24 hours for fish in season. Our main focus is to provide a wide variety of fresh seafood that is harvested from sustainable fisheries. We work very closely with our fishers to ensure that we receive the freshest, highest quality fish possible. Most, if not all, of our seafood is directly flown to our processor, resulting in fish that is 5-7 days fresher than what may be found elsewhere.

James Beard Salmon

Sustainabilty Standards

In 2019, Kowalski's became the first retailer in the country to become a James Beard Smart Catch Leader. The James Beard Foundation’s Smart Catch program is a seafood sustainability program aimed at helping restaurant chefs make good, sustainable decisions in procuring seafood for their menus. We decided in late 2018 that we needed to validate our efforts towards supporting sustainable fishing and farming initiatives. We had always used the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch list to guide our procurement process, but we felt a program that could validate those efforts and use a third-party auditing system was a good, logical next step.

The James Beard Foundation (JBF) Smart Catch program was a natural fit for us, as they are not only a highly credible organization but also one that could bring a lot of name recognition to our efforts. JBF reviewed one calendar year's worth of our seafood purchases, looking at tonnage, country of origin and fishing/farming methods. From that data, they assigned each species we had ordered a rating of green, yellow or red. Smart Catch program applicants are allowed only a certain percentage of red-rated items, and our seafood program did well enough to receive the Leader designation, their highest rating. In order to retain this status, Kowalski's must continue to submit our seafood purchase data to JBF for review every six months.

Fish Lover's Favorite: Salmon

Rich, succulent salmon is by far the Kowalski's fish lover's most beloved fish. The most popular offerings are seasonally available wild Alaskan salmon from the Copper River and craft-raised salmon from Skuna Bay, available year round. Both are the best quality salmon in their category and make delicious mealtime choices.

A Skuna Bay fisherman stands on a dock holding a large fishing net over his shoulder

Skuna Bay Craft-Raised Atlantic Salmon Fillets

Skuna Bay salmon are raised off of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Using farm-to-table, nonindustrial techniques with unparalleled concern for the environment and fish populations, Skuna Bay fishers have a complete focus on quality every step of the way. Their stewardship and care have earned them a Best Aquaculture Practices Certification by Global Aquaculture and an endorsement by the Aquarium of the Pacific's Seafood for the Future program.

Skuna Bay salmon are raised in a natural ocean environment – not in a tank – in the glacier-fed waters of the Pacific Ocean, with fast-flowing tides, cold, clear water and perfect salinity. Craftsman farmers live on the farm 24/7 and work daily to ensure that these natural waters stay as pristine as when the farm was established. Once fish are harvested from a Skuna site, our fishers allow that ocean location to rest and regenerate before restocking. In fact, 33% of Skuna Bay's farm sites are always in fallow, meaning farmers intentionally sacrifice potential farm use to protect the ocean environment. Importantly, unlike much farm-raised fish, Skuna Bay salmon live in a low-pen-density environment and eat a diet of fish, just as they would in the wild without putting undue pressure on other fish populations – and those fish are sourced only from 100% Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certified fisheries.

Available fresh year-round and harvested to order, this product is at least seven days fresher than other options in the industry. Sold exclusively at Kowalski's, this salmon is the freshest, healthiest farm-raised product available in the Twin Cities.

Find fresh Skuna Bay Salmon in the Seafood Department or in the Deli Hot Case.

Kowalski's Wild-Caught Copper River Salmon

Kowalski’s partners with several fishers to buy wild Alaskan salmon directly from the people who catch it. Other Alaskan fishers often sell their catch to tenders, larger collection boats that wait until they reach maximum capacity before offloading at a local processor. These tenders can be out on the water for days at a time before coming in to offload. Kowalski’s only buys fish from fishers who fish and offload daily, which helps preserve the quality of the fish and ensures the freshest fillets in the market. The wild season starts with Copper River salmon from Sixty North Seafood, a co-op of fishers in Cordova, Alaska, that also owns its own processing plant. We then transition to Bristol Bay salmon from captain Tony Wood, who fishes the mouth of the Naknek River and runs his own processing plant. The season ends with wild coho salmon from captain Matt Lawrie. All three of these groups share similar goals and place priority on quality over quantity. Their efforts produce the freshest wild-caught salmon available in the Twin Cities.

Honest-to-Greatness Seafood: Shrimp

Shrimp on a square white plate with lemon and cocktail sauce

Kowalski's Ultra Shrimp

Sourced from farms in Thailand, our shrimp are raised with no hormones or antibiotics – ever! Ponds are strategically placed within four hours from the processor ensuring the freshest product available. Shrimp are cooked in the shell, which gives them their brilliant color and sweet, robust flavor.

Minnesota Grown trū Shrimp

Kowalski's is excited to introduce the Twin Cities to trū Shrimp! Located in Balaton, Minnesota, the trū Shrimp Company is the first company to test and validate commercial-scale, shallow-water indoor shrimp farming technology in the United States. trū Shrimp’s land-based shrimp aquaculture technology produces superior-quality shrimp with full-bodied flavor. All shrimp raised on the farm are traceable, sustainable and antibiotic free. Click here to learn more.

Farm Raised vs. Wild Caught

Wild-Caught Seafood

Wild caught refers to fish caught in their natural environment. Wild fish is more seasonal and, for some consumers, prompts concerns about sustainability. All of Kowalski's wild-caught seafood comes from sustainable fisheries that aim to conserve fishing environments in a multitude of ways – in particular, by avoiding overfishing. Also, many people prefer wild-caught fish for its typically stronger flavor profile.

Farm-Raised Seafood

Farm raised is a term applied to seafood that has been raised in either a controlled freshwater/saltwater environment or a natural saltwater setting. By its nature, farm-raised seafood is sustainable and allows us to bring fresh, moist seafood to our customers year round. Farm-raised seafood is also generally milder and may be preferred for that reason alone. Kowalski's is committed to working with providers who ensure both the protection of the local environment in which fish farms are located as well as the production of safe, healthful products.