Walmart Canada claims it is no longer linked to Thai Union through its Great Value brand tuna. Does this signal a real change in the way Walmart Canada plans to source its tuna, or will it keep the same old inadequate sourcing policies?
In an interesting cross-border Walmart campaign plot twist, Walmart Canada claims it is no longer linked to Thai Union (TU) through its Great Value brand tuna. Why does this matter? For starters, Thai Union is the target of Greenpeace’s global tuna campaign and this move follows other companies exerting pressure on TU to change its ways or lose their business. This also matters because now questions are being raised about whether this signals a real change in the way Walmart Canada plans to source its tuna or whether it will keep the same old inadequate sourcing practices.
Greenpeace is campaigning on Walmart US and Walmart Canada to get leadership to clean up the hundreds of tuna aisles found on both sides of the borders by committing to only offer sustainably and ethically sourced tuna, starting with the popular Great Value house brand. Previous research conducted by Greenpeace linked Great Value brand to Thai Union, and Walmart US also sells an enormous amount of TU’s US brand Chicken of the Sea.
Thai Union is the largest tuna company in the world and has been coined a “keystone” company because of its disproportionately high impact on our oceans. It’s a giant seafood business and owns brands, or supplies brands, in numerous markets globally. While Thai Union not only takes a lot of fish out of the sea, many of the fishing practices it relies on are wasteful, destructive and are pushing various marine species to the brink. To add to this, the company has previously been linked to human rights and labour abuses in its broader seafood supply chains and it has not yet indicated how it will ensure its supply chains are socially responsible.
Moves like those taken by Walmart Canada should send a signal to TU that companies will increasingly want to disassociate themselves from the TU name unless the company can guarantee socially responsible products that come from more sustainable fisheries. As more and more companies become aware of the human rights and labour concerns that plague the global seafood industry, and tuna industry specifically, they will become less and less likely to want to do business with companies that pose risks to their brand.
But, Thai Union as a supplier or not, Walmart Canada has not made a commitment or provided its Great Value customers assurances that its tuna products are indeed coming from more sustainable fisheries (pole and line, troll, purse seines fishing free school/FAD-free) or from fair and ethical ones.
Meanwhile, Walmart US has yet to take any steps to indicate how it intends to ensure products linked to TU are not putting seafood workers at risk and are not wreaking havoc on our oceans. The largest retailer in the world needs to step up alongside the largest tuna company in the world to work towards solutions to a wasteful and destructive industry. Walmart: Save oceans. Protect workers.