Tesco attacked for stocking 'unsustainable' tuna

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
3 March 2014

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3 March 2014 | Will Green

Greenpeace has criticised the Tesco for stocking “dirty” tuna that it claims is unsustainably sourced.

The charity, in its “2014 tuna league table”, puts Tesco into last place among UK supermarkets, while Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer received praise for how their tuna is caught.

Greenpeace said those at the top of the table sourced their tuna using “pole and line” methods, rather than large nets that catch and kill other species.

“Tesco met its commitment to go 100 per cent pole and line in its own-brand tinned tuna in 2012, but at the same time as this it started selling a new brand of tuna called Oriental & Pacific in its stores,” said the charity in a report. “Tesco was the first supermarket to start selling this ‘dirty’ tuna to customers again, after all the companies agreed to eliminate it after pressure from our last campaign in 2011.

“This undermines Tesco’s commitment to protect the oceans because it’s effectively selling dodgy tuna again just under a different brand. Tesco also remains bottom of the supermarket pile because it is the only supermarket that has no time-bound commitment to use sustainable tuna in other products like pastas, sandwiches and salads.”

The report added: “We think Oriental & Pacific is the most unsustainable tuna on major supermarket shelves in the UK.”

A Tesco spokesman said: “The Greenpeace assessment is simply wrong. We moved much faster than many of our competitors to make sure our own-brand tuna is 100 per cent pole and line. We have also promised to use sustainable tuna in other products like pastas, sandwiches and salads. Many of our competitors continue to sell non-pole and line caught tuna.  Customers have a great choice of sustainable tuna at Tesco.”

In a statement LDH, owners of the Oriental & Pacific brand, said all its tuna suppliers were members of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation and it supported work to “achieve best practice”.

“LDH totally refutes any claim that the Oriental & Pacific Skipjack Tuna brand contains 'dirty' tuna, the implication being that there is something wrong with the product itself or that skipjack tuna is unsustainably caught,” the company said. “At least 85 per cent of the tuna we sell is fished using the pole and line method; our O&P brand skipjack tuna is caught using the purse seine fishing method, which accounts for 63 per cent of all tuna caught around the globe. Credible scientific research by the Regional Fisheries Management Organisations shows that stocks of skipjack tuna are healthy.”


The Greenpeace 2014 tuna league table:

“Market leaders”:


The Co-operative



Marks & Spencer


“Mid table”:




“Poor performers”:


John West

Oriental & Pacific

Portsmouth / Bristol - Nationwide Travel
£40,000 - £45,000 per year
Gateshead, Tyne and Wear
£30,755 - £59,459
Homes England
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