john west tuna

Tesco has moved to clarify its position on tuna after Greenpeace claimed its new sourcing policy would, in effect, ban John West products from its shelves.

The retailer last week announced plans to extend the “same sustainability requirements” applied to its own-label tuna - which has been 100% pole and line since 2012 - to branded products.

Seizing on the announcement as further evidence John West was becoming “too toxic for UK supermarkets”, Greenpeace claimed the brand would be “taken off shelves” at Tesco unless it took swift action to stop using “destructive methods” such as fishing aggregate devices (FADs).

However, Tesco has since assured the new tuna policy would not necessarily result in John West products being removed from its stores.

Acknowledging the current global shortage in pole and line tuna, Tesco said it would also accept FAD-free and MSC-certified branded products. “Tesco will allow brands sufficient time to meet these requirements but expects their plans to be ambitious, credible and publicly communicated,” a spokesman added.

John West has long defended the use of FADs for its branded tuna, claiming there is simply not enough pole and line or FAD-free tuna to satisfy retail demand.

The brand has formed a four-year partnership with WWF and is working towards achieving MSC certification for all of its tuna by 2018. “John West shares Tesco’s aspiration to increase the level of sustainable tuna available to consumers and, like Tesco, we recognise MSC accreditation as the best guarantee of sustainability,” it said.

Tesco’s tuna pledge came as part of a wider move on sustainability that included plans to increase the amount of MSC-certified fish it sells from 18 lines to more than 80 this year.