Americans love their tuna. Indeed, United States is the largest market for canned tuna in the world. But according to experts, much of the nation’s canned tuna is not produced sustainably or ethically.
“Many of the nation’s largest tuna producers continue to talk a good game on sustainability and human rights, yet have not made the changes needed to shift a destructive industry,” says David Pinsky, Greenpeace USA oceans campaigner.
But there is good news, too. In its second-ever canned tuna ranking, Greenpeace USA found that a number of U.S. retailers have made significant progress toward offering consumers more responsible products. The tuna ranking evaluated the sourcing practices of 20 brands, including whether the fishing method used to catch their tuna harms other marine life, whether they avoid shark finning, and whether they can trace their products back to the sea.
In addition, Greenpeace examined the social responsibility of tuna brands. Poor working conditions are systemic in the tuna industry, and in the worst cases, human rights violations and forced labor occur.
“Retailers are quickly realizing that consumers want canned tuna products that they can feel good about feeding their families,” Pinsky says.
In this year’s ranking, Whole Foods joined Wild Planet, American Tuna and Ocean Naturals in the top green category, identified as the best choices for American consumers. Whole Foods recently made a commitment to sell only sustainable canned tuna nationwide by early 2018, setting the bar for all other U.S. retailers.
Wild Planet and American Tuna tied for the top score in the ranking — both are considered to be trusted, sustainable tuna brands that continue to advocate for positive changes throughout the industry. Just below the top-ranked brands are seven retailers in the second-tier yellow category.
According to Greenpeace, this is a positive trend compared to the previous ranking, as a growing number of evaluated brands are providing some good tuna choices that follow better practices when it comes to the environment and worker treatment.
Greenpeace says it hopes larger brands like Chicken of the Sea and others will take a leading position in the U.S. market and help move the industry in a more positive direction.
For those consumers looking to spend their dollars with brands that treat their workers fairly and mitigate their environmental impact, these overall industry trends are good news.
To become a savvy shopper, think beyond the label, as it doesn’t always provide the full picture. Experts urge consumers to ask their local grocery store managers to carry brands that are doing the right things, and to consider sharing their opinions. To dive a bit deeper, you can view the entire Canned Tuna Shopping Guide at greenpeace.org/usa/oceans/tuna-guide.