John West, owned by the Thai Union Group, has broken its promise to use sustainable fishing methods for at least half its products by 2014, and 100% by 2017. In reality only 2% of its tuna is caught sustainably.
Tesco threatened to pull its products last year and have recently re-confirmed that it would remove most of its products within weeks from its shelves. The supermarket said “it had decided to delist a number of core John West lines” after it reviewed its sustainable fishing policy.
Now Sainsbury’s and Waitrose have joined the fray. Sainsbury’s suggested that it would take action if John West didn’t improve its practices by 2018. A spokesman said “we’re the UK’s leading retailer of sustainable fish and we expect our suppliers to take a responsible approach to sourcing“.
Waitrose has set a tighter deadline and has told John West that all its canned tuna must be caught by pole and line or Marine Stewardship Council certified by the end of next year. All its own-brand tuna already meet this standard.
Morrisons is not following suit and says it has no plans to review its contract with John West – shame on them – and the Co-op has made no comment.
The Thai company has issued the usual corporate waffle about Tesco’s action being part of their cost reduction strategy (and of course nothing to do with fishing methods).
They also say they are working with the WWF “to ensure all our products are on the path to the Marine Stewardship Council certification by the end of the initial phase of the partnership in 2018“.
Again more corporate-speak. They only say “they will be on the path” not actually changing anything. It could be a long and winding road but commercial pressure may force them to change eventually.
btw If you thought you were buying tuna from a UK company think again John West is no longer Scottish but Thai owned. Similarly Princes, the tinned salmon company which also sells well-know soup brands, is no longer just a Liverpool company but owned by Mitsubishi. That’s globalisation for you.