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04/17/2013

Safeway and Metro crack Top 5 sustainable canned tuna brands

Greenpeace scores six private-label brands; Raincoast tuna comes out on top

Metro Inc. and Safeway’s private label canned tuna products are among the Top 5 brands in Canada for sustainable sourcing, according to Greenpeace.

The environmental organization on Thursday released its annual “Canned Tuna Sustainability Ranking,” which scores 14 companies on their tuna sourcing policies and practices.

Canada Safeway came in third place this year, beating out all other private labels as well as major national brands like Unico and Clover Leaf.

According to a Greenpeace press release, the Western Canadian grocery chain’s recent decision to replace “its entire tuna line with fish aggregating device (FAD)-free, or free-school, tuna,” earned the bronze medal.

Metro, meanwhile, was this year’s “most improved retailer,” said Greenpeace oceans co-ordinator Sarah King, noting that the company’s Selection label catapulted to 5th place from 11th a year ago.

“They took the bold step of removing albacore in addition to yellowfin tuna [from their private-label canned products] because of stock health concerns,” King says. “That’s not something that a lot of other brands are doing.”

Walmart’s Great Value, on the other hand, is one of three brands “not making progress toward eliminating destructively-caught tuna from their product lines,” Greenpeace said.

The discount giant, along with Clover Leaf and Unico, occupied the bottom three spots on Greenpeace’s list this year.

“Walmart hasn’t taken any steps really over the last couple of years,” said King. “There hasn’t been a lot of change in the way they approach their tuna sourcing.”

But readers shouldn’t be startled by Sobeys’ tumble in the ranks (it dropped to 10th place from 6th last year).

“There are only so many spots at the top,” King noted. “If you’re either not continuing to make strong progress or if your progress isn’t as strong as someone else, you’re going to drop, even if you are still moving forward.”

Greenpeace has released its Canned Tuna Sustainability Rankings annually since 2010.

Companies are surveyed and then graded on their “attention” to responsible fishing methods, traceability, and sourcing from healthy stocks, among other criterion.

The goal of the survey, according to King, is to “send a signal to the market that as major sellers and buyers, [companies] have to take more care and ensure that their sourcing isn’t inhibiting future health of these fish stocks and isn’t leading to huge amounts of waste of other species.”

Here are the complete Greenpeace rankings this year (Last year’s ranking in brackets):

1. Raincoast Trading (1st)

2. Wild Planet Foods, Wild Planet, Sustainable Seas brands (2nd)

3. Canada Safeway, Safeway brand (5th)

4. Canadian Fishing Company, Gold Seal brand (3rd)

5. Metro, Selection brand (11th)

6. Overwaitea Food Group, Western Family brand (10th)

7. Loblaw, President’s Choice, No Name brands (7th)

8. Pastene (14th)

9. Ocean Brands, Ocean’s brand tuna (4th)

10. Sobeys, Compliments, Sensations brands (6th)

11. Bolton Alimentari, Rio Mare, Saupiquet brand (8th)

12. Walmart, Great Value brand (12th)

13. Unico (13th)

14. Clover Leaf Seafoods (9th)

Greenpeace’s complete report is available here.