After coming seventh out of eight in Greenpeace’s 2011 tinned tuna league ­table, John West is boosting its tuna sourcing credentials with a new online feature that allows shoppers to trace each can back to the boat it came from.

From 7 October, shoppers can enter an on-pack code on the John West ­website to ­access information about which region of the ocean the tuna was caught in, the exact species name as well as the name of the John West-owned boat that caught it and a photo.

The feature will initially be available for canned tuna only, but John West plans to extend it to canned mackerel and sardines within the next six to nine months.

The move which the company claims is an industry first is a major boost to John West’s sustainability and traceability credentials. It comes after the company was ranked second from bottom in Greenpeace’s 2011 tinned tuna league table, which rates tinned fish companies according to their sustainability and responsible sourcing credentials.

John West marketing controller Asanka De Silva said the company’s new traceability feature represented a “massive step change” in the shopper’s ability to trace the provenance of the food they buy, and a significant step forward for John West. “It’s a major departure from where we’ve been before, when we’ve always been shy about sharing data,” he added.

John West’s new traceability feature will be supported by a TV ad campaign that goes live on 10 October. Rather than promoting one specific product, the new ad will promote the John West brand in general the first time the company has done so since its famous 2001 ad, in which a bear grappled with a ­salmon.

John West said the ads would target ABC1 women and would run along high-profile programmes such as The X Factor and Downton Abbey.

In addition, the company is relaunching its website to support its campaign.