Tesco out of touch with consumers in tinned tuna row.

A MAJOR new poll released by Greenpeace shows that over three quarters (78%) of people who buy tinned tuna in the UK believe major supermarkets should stop selling unsustainable tuna caught in a way that also kills sharks, rays and turtles.

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The survey has also delivered bad news to the UKs biggest supermarket chain Tesco. The company has recently been criticised by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Greenpeace for being the first supermarket to re-introduce unsustainable tinned tuna, Oriental & Pacific, onto their shelves after promising to clean up their own-brand tuna in 2011. The YouGov poll reveals that 84% of Tesco tinned tuna consumers thought that cleaning up their own brand was the right decision and 70% said they opposed a scenario in which Tesco and Asda re-introduced unsustainable tuna onto the shelves.


Since the launch of Greenpeace’s tuna league table in which Tesco was ranked bottom of all the major supermarket tuna brands, over 70, 000 people have signed a petition to Tesco CEO, Philip Clarke, calling on him to remove Oriental & Pacific from Tesco shelves. This week, Tesco’s market share fell to a decade low, and when questioned about whether he felt investor pressure, Philip Clarke responded that ‘…it’s about doing the right thing for our customers.’


Ariana Densham, Greenpeace UK Oceans Campaigner said: “Tesco aren’t doing the right thing for its customers or for endangered marine life. Tesco has justified selling Oriental & Pacific saying they want to give consumers choice but this shows they are completely out of touch. Consumers are clear – they don’t want the ‘choice’ to buy dodgy tuna, caught in a way that kills sharks, rays and turtles. The tins don’t even have clear labelling, so people don’t know what they’re buying. That’s not choice; that’s deception.”


Tesco seems to be willing to say anything to get its customers off its back. They say that they were one of the first to move to using sustainable tuna. This is fiction. Tesco were dragging their feet and was one of the last supermarkets to commit and only finally gave in after mass public pressure.”


Tesco claim they have insisted that Oriental & Pacific make similar sustainability commitments to other brands of tuna. The manufacturers of Oriental & Pacific, LDH (La Doria) Ltd, have confirmed to Greenpeace that they will commit to improving their policy. But the campaigners say that their commitment falls far short of the industry wide standard to source 100% pole and line, or tuna which has been caught in nets, without the use of Fish Aggregation Devices – the floating rafts that attract sharks, turtles and rays.


Ariana Densham, Greenpeace UK Oceans Campaigner continued: “Rather than meeting the same standard as other tuna brands, the owners of Oriental & Pacific have simply lowered the bar. The new policy commitment they are making would still allow sharks, rays and turtles would be caught and killed.”


Sainsbury’s came top of the Greenpeace league table as a market leader for tuna sustainability and the survey showed that Sainsbury’s are clearly meeting the demand for sustainable tuna from their consumers. Of those who buy own-brand supermarket tinned tuna, Sainsbury’s consumers came out most strongly of all the respondents who supported the decision to take unsustainable own brand tuna off the shelves in 2011, and against the idea of re-introducing it in the future.


Manifest to this is that last Friday, Sainsbury’s was set to give away up to seven tonnes of lesser known fish (lemon sole, mussels, sea bass, coley fillets and rainbow trout) to encourage customers to expand their food repertoire by including alternative species as part of their regular diet. Now in its third year, ‘Switch the Fish Day’ is part of the retailer’s commitment to sustainable fish.


80% of the UK’s favourite fish is made up of the Big Five; cod, haddock, tuna, salmon and prawns. When a customer asks for one of the Big Five fish species at the Sainsbury’s in-store fish counter on ‘Switch the Fish Day’, they were offered a free portion of a lesser known alternative to try at home. Now in its third year, the idea builds on the success of last January’s ‘Switch the Fish’, where sales of the five alternative species championed soared 17.5% across the year – more than double compared with other species on the fresh fish counter. Lemon sole saw the biggest uplift post ‘Switch the Fish’ day with + 72%, followed by coley at +59% and Cornish sardines +46%.