Walmart leadership’s lack of initiative to ensure the tuna in Great Value cans is both sustainable and ethical leaves customers in the dark about whether or not Great Value is a brand they can trust. So we attended the Retail Council of Canada’s Leaders in Retail Breakfast to deliver the message to Walmart Canada’s CEO Lee Tappenden that it’s time for Walmart to clean up its tuna aisles and make the changes necessary to guarantee that only socially responsible and more sustainable tuna fills Great Value cans.
There’s an unsolved mystery in Walmart’s canned tuna aisles, and this time it’s not how they get those prices so low. Walmart leadership’s lack of initiative to ensure the tuna in Great Value cans is both sustainable and ethical leaves customers in the dark about whether or not Great Value is a brand they can trust. So we attended the Retail Council of Canada’s Leaders in Retail Breakfast to deliver the message to Walmart Canada’s CEO Lee Tappenden that it’s time for Walmart to clean up its tuna aisles and make the changes necessary to guarantee that socially responsible and more sustainable tuna fills Great Value cans.
As the CEO gave his speech to fellow members of the retail sector, activists unraveled banners to the audience and facing the speaker, reading “Walmart: Save Oceans. Protect Workers. Clean up Great Value brand tuna.” Activists were then escorted out by security, as the event participants stared with raised eyebrows.
This message to Walmart leadership should not be news at this point. Greenpeace, and over 80,000 people in Canada and the US, have called on Walmart to do its part to save our oceans and protect seafood workers by starting with changing its Great Value brand tuna. Real change would result in Walmart sourcing from current best practice fishing methods (pole and line, troll, FAD-free) that reduce impacts on ocean life, and from suppliers that can ensure strong labour and human rights standards are met from sea to supermarket shelf.
Our campaign is gaining momentum. This event follows a series of awareness activities across Canada where volunteers visited stores to hand out hundreds of big “Ocean Savings” coupons to customers, sharing the truth about how Great Value tuna isn’t in line with ocean lovers’ and workers rights advocates’ values, and explaining why we think the Great Value brand should live up to its name!
Customers couldn’t get enough of our mock coupons at a store grand opening that we attended where volunteers greeted customers at the top of the store escalator with our banner, “Walmart: Save Oceans. Protect Workers,” while a jazz band played in the background. Volunteers also handed out app cards to download the Sustainable Canned Tuna Guide onto their phones for at-your-fingertips advice on which tuna brands are best.
Behind Great Value brand’s innocuous labels are products filled with tuna from destructive fishing operations responsible for ocean degradation and potentially shady social practices. Fishing methods like purse seines with fish aggregating devices (FADs) and longlines are the most common methods for catching the tuna that goes into cans, and both result in high levels of bycatch, putting already threatened species like sharks and turtles at further risk. Additionally, Walmart has not yet been transparent about how it is ensuring its Great Value tuna is not coming from operations that are putting seafood workers at risk of unfair and unethical treatment.
The call for Walmart to get real about the environmental impacts and potential social costs of its Great Value tuna is spreading. From photos and videos of our activities traveling through social media to volunteers putting mock coupons in coffee shops, on community boards, and in local papers, we’re growing the number of people who know the truth about Walmart’s tuna. We even attended a retail event in Vancouver with representatives from about 300 retailers to encourage them not to be like Walmart.
The fact is that Walmart can change its tuna and it must to be able to stand behind the tuna it puts in Great Value cans. You can help by telling Walmart that you want 100% sustainable and ethical tuna now and by spreading the word about the shady tuna in Great Value cans.