John West: another broken promise

Last edited 14 October 2015 at 11:49am
14 October, 2015

**Update: John West has now amended its website to include Thailand in the menu of its can tracker, but the option does not allow customers to track the can, but instead asks them to email John West for further details.**

- Greenpeace investigation finds tuna cans with “100% traceable” label can’t be traced as John West claims

- In addition, thousands of John West tuna products in supermarkets found to come from Thailand – a country which is not an option in the company’s Can Tracker tool

- John West has responsibility to show customers full transparency, especially given international concerns over Thai fishing industry – which include environmental destruction and human rights abuses

- Greenpeace says John West must call on owners Thai Union to guarantee its supply chain is free from human rights abuses and destructive fishing practices

A Greenpeace investigation has laid bare John West’s empty promise over the “traceability” of its tuna.

For years, John West has been promoting a tool on its website that encourages customers to “Discover the story behind your can”, back to the vessel that caught it, by entering codes printed on its products.

But Greenpeace has found that despite some products being labelled as “100% traceable”, accompanied by an arrow pointing to the company’s website, the website’s tool provides absolutely no way of tracing the cans. This is a claim that is not just misleading: it is plainly false.

The crowdsourced investigation also discovered that thousands of John West tuna products in supermarkets across the UK are from Thailand – a country not even acknowledged as a source on the company’s website. While the company claims to be “working” to update the traceability tool, it has had over four years to do so, and while products from Ghana and the Seychelles are searchable, Thailand is not even listed as an option.

Over 2,400 different cans and packets were found with codes linking them to three different canneries in Thailand, all run by John West’s owners Thai Union – the largest tinned tuna company in the world. All three canneries were in the Samut Sakhon region of the country, an area which has been linked to both the use of unsustainable tuna purse seiners and human rights abuses.

Greenpeace has urged John West to deliver on its promise to customers and commit to full traceability of its products, and to call on Thai Union to guarantee its supply chains are free from human rights abuses, as well as using its position within the Thai fishing industry to drive out the exploitation of the oceans and workers.

Ariana Densham, Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace, said “the one thing you can clearly track from sea to shelf is John West’s disdain for its customers”: 

‘John West promises to tell “the story behind every can” – but it’s keeping schtum on its Thai cans, when these are precisely the ones consumers deserve to have the clearest information on.

‘The Thai fishing industry has come under fire recently – whether for its fishing practices or for labour rights and human rights abuses – including from the US government and the EU. A recent investigation also linked John West’s owners Thai Union to human rights abuses in its supply chain. All of this shows just why John West has such a huge responsibility to not only meet its own sustainability commitments, but also to call on Thai Union to guarantee its supply chains are free from human rights abuses.

‘When a company like John West puts “100% traceable” on its tins, consumers quite rightly expect to be able to take their word for it. But how are consumers expected to trust anything John West says when it not only breaks its sustainability promise, but then breaks a second promise by making false claims on its tins?

‘Well here’s one thing you can clearly track from sea to shelf: John West’s disdain for its customers. Consumers should tell John West and its owner Thai Union that there’s simply no appetite for unjust and unsustainable tuna in the UK or around the world.

‘John West has a duty to tell its customers the story behind these cans from Thailand – and to call on its owners Thai Union to ensure its supply chains are free from human rights abuses and to drive out the industry’s exploitation of the oceans and those who work on them.’

Notes to editors

- Last week, John West came last in Greenpeace’s 2015 tuna league table, having broken its sustainability promise to source 50% of its tuna sustainably by the end of 2014. Despite a pledge to be 100% sustainable by the end of 2016, the tuna company has so far managed just 2%:

- Thai Union is the world’s largest tinned tuna company, and one of the largest seafood companies in the world, with tuna brands in North America, Europe and Asia.

- Thai Union supplies almost one-fifth (18%) of the world’s tinned tuna.

- Discussing human rights abuses, Thai Union CEO Khun Thiraphong Chansiri has said: ‘we all have to admit that it is difficult to ensure the Thai seafood industry's supply chain is 100% clean.’

- John West’s traceability scheme was launched in 2011 as part of its sustainability promise to customers, alongside eliminating destructive fishing methods.

- Just days ago John West released a statement saying: ‘As the world leaders in traceability, we encourage our consumers to monitor us; our unique “can tracker” allows every consumer to see exactly where their fish was caught by tracing it back to the vessel.’

For interviews and further information, contact: Luke Massey - 07973873155 -

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