First Tesco, now Waitrose threatens John West with ban over broken tuna sustainability promise

Publication date: 9th May 2016

London, 9 May 2016 – Waitrose has become the latest UK retailer to slam John West over its sustainability record: telling the seafood giant that if it does not clean up its act, its tuna tins will be taken off the shelves.

The decision will pile pressure on the embattled tuna company, which accounts for a third of the UK market, following last week’s announcement by Tesco that John West would be banned if it continued using harmful fishing practices.

Following a public campaign which has seen more than 40,000 people email Waitrose’s managing director in a matter of days, the retailer has now told John West it has until the end of 2017 to meet sustainability criteria or face the consequences.

Greenpeace is now calling on Sainsbury’s and other UK retailers to call time on John West’s disregard for sustainability.

The move comes as a Greenpeace expedition in the Indian Ocean is tracking down and removing harmful fishing gear linked to John West and its owner Thai Union.

John West came last in Greenpeace’s 2015 tuna league table. Despite having committed five years ago to source 100% sustainable tuna by the end of this year, the last published figures showed that more than 98% of its tuna is caught using destructive methods. This includes the use of so-called “fish aggregating devices” (FADs) which result in indiscriminate harm to marine life, especially sharks.

Hélène Bourges, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK said:

“Enough is enough. It’s time for John West to clean up or ship out. For too long they’ve only paid lip-service to sustainability – and now the game’s up.

“With Waitrose and Tesco saying they’ll be off the shelves if they don’t sort out their destructive fishing practices, John West is facing losing millions because they thought they could blag their commitment to sustainability while doing little to improve.

“Waitrose came top of our tuna league table last year and we know they take sustainability seriously. So it’s great to see them taking responsibility for everything on their shelves – including branded tuna products. Waitrose’s customers would expect nothing less and they’ll welcome such a move.”

“It’s only right for Sainsbury’s to make the same call. As the second biggest supermarket in the UK they can’t afford to ignore such shoddy behaviour by John West and they should be helping us to move towards a 100% sustainable tuna market here in the UK. Come on Sainsbury’s – do the right thing.”


Notes to editor:

– Waitrose has set a deadline of the end of 2017 for John West and other branded tuna to meet the store’s sustainability criteria or be taken from the shelves. Jeremy Ryland Langley, Waitrose’s aquaculture and fisheries manager, said: “When they buy a can of own-label tuna, our customers know that they are always buying a product which has been sustainably sourced – and now they will have the same assurance when it comes to buying a branded product.”

– Tesco announced last week that unless John West met its sustainability criteria that it would be banned from stores:

– The Greenpeace ship The Esperanza is currently in the Indian Ocean taking action against John West and its owner Thai Union, the largest producer of tinned tuna in the world. The expedition has already discovered and removed a number of FADs linked to both companies. Photo and video available here:

Media contact:

For further information and interviews, contact:

Luke Massey, Press & Communications Officer, Greenpeace UK, mobile: +44 (0)7973873155,