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Ethical Food & Drink – Tinned Tuna

In 2011 the UK tuna industry made history when, following a Greenpeace campaign and working together with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight nearly every major retailer as well as the two biggest tuna brands committed to using more sustainable fishing methods.  No longer would they use so called “Fish Aggregating Devices” (or “FADs”) to hoover up tuna, instead they would opt for either pole and line caught tuna or other methods which minimised the accidental catching of species like sharks and turtles.

Not ‍‍‍Just Tuna

Over the past five years we’ve seen progress in the UK’s tuna market as retailers and brands wake up to the many issues surrounding the way the tuna industry treats both the oceans and its workers.  Unfortunately we’ve also seen some big steps in the wrong direction as brands like John West and Princes choose to ignore the promises they made to their customers and opt for business as usual – choosing big profits over the preservation of our oceans and marine life for generations to come.

Brands like Fish4Ever and Reelfish are leading the way, with retailers shortly behind. But the biggest tuna brands, John West and Princes, are continuing to use unsustainable fishing methods and failing to do their utmost to ensure that their supply chains are free from human rights abuses.  John West’s owner Thai Union has repeatedly been associated with labour rights abuses and human trafficking, yet only piecemeal attempts are being made to address this problem.

And Thai Union isn’t just the owner of John West: it’s one of the biggest seafood companies globally, with 35 subsidiaries and tuna brands in countries all over the world. Last year Greenpeace launched a campaign against Thai Union which aims to transform them from one of the worst culprits of ocean destruction into leaders in sustainability and human rights.

Despite hundreds of thousands of people backing the campaign, there’s a long way to go before they get there. But for as long as they choose profit over planet, and for as long as they fail to protect their workers from abuses, we’ll be continuing to put pressure across their supply chain – and consumers are key to helping us do this.  When there are brands out there doing the right thing, it’s vital that we make the responsible decision to choose them over brands like John West and Princes.  Only then will we start to see the progress we want to see.

Consumer pressure changed the tuna industry in 2011, and now for the sake of our oceans and those who work on them, we need to keep it up and hold companies accountable to their promises.

We would like to thank Hélène Bourges – Ocean Campaigner fo‍‍‍r Greenpeace UK, for contributing the above editorial. 

Greenpeace also produce their own Tuna League Table which can be viewed here.  Not surprisingly, the results are similar to The Good Shopping Guide’s ethical rankings, with Princes and John West at the bottom of the pile.  Along with Greenpeace, we urge you to avoid these brands until the companies commit to sustainable fishing methods and address the human rights issues. #NotJustTuna

Key Research

Below you will find links to the key sections of our ethical research in Food & Drink:

We have created ethical rankings for the following brands, based on the activities of the company group (see above tables): Fish4Ev‍‍‍er, Reelfish,The Co-operative Food, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Lidl, Aldi, ASDA, John West, Tesco, and Princes

‍‍‍Disclosure:  Som‍‍‍e of the links above are affiliate links, meaning we earn commission if you click through and make a purchase. Placement and use of these links has no bearing in terms of the ethical scores that we give to a brand.  All commission earned by The Good Shopping Guide is re-invested into the research carried out by The Ethical Company Organisation.

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