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Investigation into canned tuna products in supermarkets

Posted by Rachael King — 17 November 2010 at 12:12pm - Comments

You may remember that back in June 2008, we asked for your help to conduct research on the canned tuna that is sold by leading UK retailers. The information you gathered for us was very useful indeed and helped enormously with our campaign - which led to significant changes in industry practice. However it is now out of date and we need your help again to update it.


Throughout the world's oceans, tuna is in trouble. Species of bluefin are critically endangered, while stocks of bigeye, albacore and yellowfin are suffering from overfishing.  Even where there are relatively healthy stocks, the commonest methods of tuna-fishing have a disastrous impact on populations of endangered sea turtles, sharks, sea birds and other fish.

There is a huge market for tuna in the UK, particularly of the canned variety. Although we saw big movements from industry following our previous campaign work, with a number of retailers now only sourcing pole and line, which is the most sustainable form of fishing for tuna, there is still work to be done to get the tinned tuna industry on a sustainable footing.  Most tinned tuna is still caught using nets around ‘fish aggregation devices' - a method of fishing which causes large amounts of bycatch, including turtles, sharks, rays, other fish and juvenile tuna.  Accordingly, Greenpeace is now developing work to change the current, unacceptable environmental practices that remain among some parts of this industry.

Your help

In preparation for this campaign, we are conducting research on the canned tuna that is sold by leading UK retailers.  This work will allow us to compare the canned tuna sustainability credentials of different retailers and to publicly highlight the best and worst performers to create pressure for the change that is urgently needed.  Although we will distribute formal surveys to retailers, experience tells us that sometimes what is on the shelves does not match what a company says in a questionnaire! 

Accordingly, we are seeking your help to investigate the canned tuna stocked by local retailers. In particular, we are looking for your help to check your local store in one or more of the following chains:




If you are able to do this for all of the supermarkets listed above, that would be extremely helpful. If you are only able to get to one of them that will still be valuable.

Please complete this survey on each of the own brand tuna products that you find on their shelves as well as branded tuna products (such as John West and Princes).  It would be terrific if you could get a couple of samples of both own brand and branded products, but if you are short of time, concentrate on the own brand products.  We are not asking you to consider fresh or bottled tuna products.

For each product, please randomly select 5 tins from the pile, and fill in as much information as possible in the table below. The most important pieces of information are the product name and size, any information about the species of tuna (this will normally be skipjack, but sometimes it is not specified) and the factory code. You can usually find the factory code printed on the tin in ink, usually on the lid. This normally looks something like MDV 001.or ES 12.00489/PO CE. Please write each code you find for a particular product in the space provided.

Other information regarding fishing method, certification and price is also very helpful.

Please complete this research by 1st December (or as soon as possible after this date) and send all completed tables to Rachael King, Greenpeace, Canonbury Villas, London N1 2PN or email to 

Thank you very much for your assistance with this project.


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