Greenpeace ranks U.S. tuna canners for sustainability, flunks most


James Wright, Senior Editor

Published on
March 9, 2015

Greenpeace on Monday launched its first-ever ranking of 14 U.S. canned tuna brands based on “fundamental sustainability standards,” and gave failing grades to eight, including the market’s top three brands: Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea and StarKist.

The group said it examined the impact of the brands’ sourcing practices on the environment, including fishing gear, illegal fishing practices like shark finning, traceability and even human rights practices in the fishing industry.

“Consumers should know that popular and trusted canned tuna brands are contributing to ocean destruction at an alarming rate,” said Graham Forbes, leader of Greenpeace’s seafood markets campaign. “While the biggest brands have thus far refused to offer sustainable tuna, the silver lining here is that other companies are stepping up to provide ocean safe options for their customers.”

Greenpeace contends that more than 80 percent of the tuna sold in the U.S. market comes from unsustainable, destructive sources. Greenpeace’s 2015 Canned Tuna Shopping Guide looked at 14 U.S. national and private label brands and concluded that most lack measures to address both sustainability and human welfare and labor issues. Companies that did not respond to Greenpeace's questionaires were downgraded for lacking transparency.

The rankings earned an immediate response from the National Fisheries Institute, which referred to the effort as a veiled fundraising exercise and criticized the scoring methodology as “totally arbitrary.”

“The non-scientific, non-transparent and completely subjective rankings are one of the thinnest offerings Greenpeace has ever promoted,” the group said. “While other annual rank-n-spank campaigns have been largely dismissed as ineffective sideshows, with a target audience of donors and institutional supporters Greenpeace has at least made an effort to make those operations appear robust. This latest promotion is anemic at best.”

Eight of the 14 tuna brands Greenpeace evaluated received a failing score, including retailers Walmart, Target, Costco, Safeway and Kroger. Greenpeace gave Wild Planet, American Tuna and Ocean Naturals the top scores and identified the brands as the best choices for U.S. tuna consumers. Whole Foods finished near the top tier for selling only more responsibly caught tuna. Hy-Vee and Trader Joe’s also ranked near the top, but continue to have some outstanding sustainability concerns.

To view the entire Canned Tuna Shopping Guide, click here. Here are Greenpeace’s canned tuna rankings:

1. Wild Planet
2. American Tuna
3. Ocean Naturals
4. Whole Foods
5. Hy-Vee
6. Trader Joe’s
7. Safeway
8. Costco
9. Target
10. Walmart
11. Chicken of the Sea
12. Bumble Bee
13. Kroger
14. StarKist

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