Greenpeace takes on Sainsbury’s over John West tuna

Environmental activist group Greenpeace has initiated a campaign against Sainsbury’s, as it seeks to have the U.K.’s second-largest grocery store chain drop the Thai Union-owned John West tuna brand, which it criticizes as “unsustainable.”

Activists have been removing John West tuna cans from shelves at Sainsbury’s locations throughout the U.K. and hiding them in other parts of the stores. They have also added signage to shelving asking customers to contact Sainsbury’s to get them have them drop the John West brand.

In addition, Greenpeace’s largest ship, the Esperanza, sailed into London to further increase the visibility of the campaign.

Sainsbury’s rivals Tesco and Waitrose committed this summer to removing John West brand tuna from their stores, but Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe has refused.

“Other retailers like Tesco and Waitrose have already committed to remove John West’s tuna and Tesco has even started taking their tins off shelves. Sainsbury’s prides itself on its reputation as a sustainable business, but for as long as it continues to profit from John West’s unsustainable seafood, it’s killing our oceans,” Ariana Densham, an oceans campaigner at Greenpeace, said.

Sainsbury’s, in a statement to the U.K’s Deadline News, said it disagreed with Greenpeace’s methods but shared its goal of increasing the sustainability status of John West tuna.

“We wholeheartedly share Greenpeace’s goal of improving fishing practices across the world, which makes it all the more disappointing to be the sole focus of this campaign. We are the UK’s leading retailer of sustainable fish,” said Sainsbury’s, in a statement to The Metro. "John West is working with WWF to drive up its sustainability status by 2018 and we are closely monitoring the progress. We have been absolutely clear that if targets are not met, we will reconsider our relationship with John West. But we know it’s more effective to work with businesses to tackle issues rather than simply turning our backs.”

A spokeswoman for John West said told Deadline News, “We respect Greenpeace’s position – indeed we share their vision for healthy seas for generations to come. However, we cannot support the methods it uses to highlight its campaigns. John West and our parent company, Thai Union, are doing everything we can to change our own operations and introduce improvements into the global seafood industry.”

“For tuna in particular, we are working with many different stakeholders to implement Fishery Improvement Projects that will ensure sustainability and bring tuna fisheries to the level of the MSC standard. Greenpeace knows this – we meet with them regularly.”


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