You did it! Princes will indeed change their tuna, and so will Asda

Posted by jamie — 9 March 2011 at 12:48pm - Comments

It's with enormous pleasure that I can reveal that Princes has (finally) got the message that bycatch is killing the oceans and has announced that it will clean up its tinned tuna. Thanks to all the emails, phone calls and advertising slogans you've been sending (not to mention a few protesting sharks outside head office), Princes have committed to stop using indiscriminate fishing methods which hoover up entire aquariums of marine creatures. Result!

The details are contained in a strategy which Princes has shown to our campaigners. It explains Princes have pledged that by the end of 2014 all their tinned tuna will be caught by either pole and line or Fad-free purse seine nets. They can't say yet what the split will be between those two catch methods, but the important thing is they've made the commitment to remove Fads from purse seine nets, the combination with the worst bycatch levels.

Princes had already said to us it will be adding species information to its tins and will launch its own range of pole and line caught tuna later this year. This latest announcement brings the company in line with the likes of Sainsbury's, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose which have removed Fads from their supply chains. Not to mention Tesco which made commitments to do the same in January, just before we launched this phase of our campaign. We've made incredible progress since the beginning of the year.

And while it will be almost three years before Princes finishes overhauling its practices, that mostly reflects its dominance of the tinned tuna market – more than one in three tins of tuna sold in the UK bears the Princes logo. The cherry on the cake is Princes' support for the Pacific Commons marine reserve.

And we've just heard that Asda have also committed to match Princes's strategy and its tinned tuna will also be Fad-free by 2014. The market is shifting so rapidly that this just leaves John West and Morrisons as the only major UK brands still relying on Fads for tuna catches.

So what next? With Princes moving off the bottom of our league table, that leaves John West to once again become John Worst. Despite having made significant progress since it came bottom of our 2008 league table, the rapid shifts in the rest of the tuna industry mean it's now trailing well behind.

John West is another big player, with 34 per cent of the UK market, just behind Princes's 36 per cent. It's a close-run race for the UK's biggest tinned tuna supplier, and Princes has now shifted its business onto a sustainable trajectory to open up more of a lead over John West.

There's also an international angle, as both companies are owned by larger ones – Princes Foods is part of the giant Mitsubishi Group while last year John West was snapped up by Thai Union, the world’s biggest seafood company.

Of course, Morrisons also still sells tuna caught with Fads, but let's start with John West – we'll get to Morrisons soon enough. For now, email John West about its continued use of Fads and all those dead sharks it's responsible for.

About Jamie

I'm a forests campaigner working mainly on Indonesia. My personal mumblings can be found @shrinkydinky.

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