An early marker of a more stringent seafood sustainable effort to come, this July, Walmart will launch Great Value canned tuna that is certified by sustainable fishery practices. The private brand product will set the tone for other brands to create positive change, the retailer said.
The store brand tuna will be either certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or sourced from a time-bound fishery in the Fishery Improvement Project that is actively working toward certification. The MSC expects fisheries to meet sustainable fish stocks, have minimal environmental impact and provide effective fisheries management.
Walmart had previously announced that it had a goal to make its own brand canned tuna sustainable by 2025, so the July launch is way ahead of the goal.
The move toward more sustainable fish comes from the United Nations saying that a third of global fisheries have been fished beyond sustainable limits. Walmart delivered the news on its new tuna on June 8 to coincide with the United Nations’ World Oceans Day.
“With a clear signal from leadership, our team has invested in research to help us better understand the value chain of tuna and ask the question, ‘What’s the right way to do this?’” said Sean Reber, Walmart’s global sourcing team leader on direct import programs for packaged food.
Walmart’s using the Great Value canned tuna as a roadmap for other brands to practice sustainable seafood. Part of this move is also Walmart’s request that suppliers report their progress of seafood sustainability using the Seafood Metrics System, managed by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, a system that helps track suppliers and keep them accountable.
While meeting the Great Value canned tuna goal is a good first step, Walmart said it is still looking to have all of Walmart’s shelf-stable tuna assortment be equally sustainable by 2025. “When Walmart says, ‘we’re committed to buying sustainable tuna,’ it sends a message loud and clear to the fishing vessels, to the captains and to the industry at large,” said Reber.