Canned seafood’s drive toward healthfulness
By Christine Blank, SeafoodSource contributing editor
11 September, 2012
Canned seafood manufacturers have developed canning and packaging techniques that essentially boost the health benefits of a naturally healthy product. And, those techniques are paying off as more consumers look for sustainable canned seafood with a high Omega 3 fatty acid content.
Sustainable seafood company Wild Planet Foods in McKinleyville, Calif., has found that its canned Albacore tuna, for example, has a higher level of Omega 3 fatty acids than other brands because the product is only cooked once in the can. Most major brands cook the tuna off the bone, then package it in cans with oil or water.
“We take an actual hand-cut steak of tuna right from the whole tuna — sashimi grade — and blast it frozen. The frozen steaks are hand-cut and hand-packed into cans without any additional oil,” said Tim Fiorino, national sales manager for Wild Planet.
Because of Wild Planet’s higher Omega 3 fatty acid content and lower mercury content than other major brands, Wild Planet is attracting new consumers to the tuna category.
“These are people who had given up on tuna: they didn’t like the quality of the product. They are coming back to make a selection that is environmentally preferable and one that provides better health benefits,” Fiorino said.
As a result, Wild Planet’s sales in mainstream supermarkets have soared 51.79 percent for the 52 weeks ending 8 July 2012, according to SymphonyIRI Group, a Chicago-based market research firm. Sales of most other canned tuna brands declined during the same time period. Sales of Bumble Bee Prime Fillet tuna fell 7.22 percent, Chicken of the Sea canned tuna declined 2.09 percent, and Starkist tuna sales dropped 2.39 percent.
Eco-friendly and health-focused packaging techniques are not limited to the canned tuna market. Crown Prince in City of Industry, Calif., recently launched a line of pouch-pack sardines using new technology.
“The retorting process has been perfected, so the fish are not over-cooked in the pouch,” according to a statement from the company.
The lightweight, 3.53-ounce pouch also decrease the sardines’ carbon footprint, according to Crown Prince. The company’s sardines are carried in Wal-Mart stores nationwide and regionally in Kroger, King Soopers, Dillons, Stop & Shop, and Giant stores.
11 September, 2012