In its ruthless hunt for profit the supermarket is even prepared to ignore its own consumer promises writes PETER FROST.
Campaigning organisation Greenpeace have accused supermarket giant Tesco of stocking a brand of tuna that is caught in a way that can harm other wildlife despite promises that it would only sell fish from sustainable sources.
The supermarket giant pledged in 2012 to ensure all its own brand tuna was sustainably caught. Also after the horsemeat scandal it promised to be more open and transparent on the origins of all its produce.
Now, says Greenpeace Tesco has started to stock tinned shredded tuna flakes in brine from low-cost brand Oriental and Pacific (O&P). This fish is caught in large nets.
LDH, a joint British Italian company whose major shareholder is the Italian La Doria company, owns the O&P tuna brand.
They admit that O &P brand skipjack tuna is caught using the purse seine fishing method (below). This method can also kill other marine creatures such as turtles, rays and sharks say Greenpeace.
In reality the new product hasn’t done Tesco any favours. Many Tesco customers, temped by the very low price of the new brand have been disappointed and told consumer websites and Facebook pages that the shredded, rather than chunky, tuna is more like cat or dog food and has a nasty smell.
In a comparison of the sustainability of various supermarket tinned tuna the Greenpeace said Sainsbury’s was at the forefront; Waitrose, the Co-operative, Marks and Spencer, and Morrisons were also praised.
Ariana Densham, Greenpeace UK oceans campaigner, told us: “Morrisons joins Sainsbury’s as a market leader on tuna sustainability. They have eliminated unsustainable tuna from their products, which is great news for sharks, turtles and rays.
“If Tesco wants to catch up with the front runners and win back consumer confidence, they must take this dirty tuna off their shelves today.”
Food campaigner and celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (below), featured the issue on his, Channel 4, Fish Fight programme. He too called on Tesco to take the brand off its shelves.
Previously Tesco had said it had moved much faster than many of its competitors to make sure its own-brand tuna was 100% caught using a pole and line, which avoids catching other species by accident.
It had also promised to use sustainable tuna in other products such as pastas, sandwiches and salads.
Tesco have long dominated the country’s high streets and out of town shopping centres to such an extent that more than a hundred organisations, from Friends of the Earth to the Women’s Institute, have already called on the supermarket giant to be curbed.
Up and down the country Tesco have been rightly blamed for the dwindling number of independent butchers, grocers and corner shops and the decline of town and village high streets. Today they are also Britain’s biggest fishmonger.
This domination of the market place has made them very unpopular, indeed hated. Tesco had been fighting back to polish their tarnished name.
After the horsemeat scandal it seemed they were trying hard to rebuild their damaged reputation. Now it seems, in the scrabble for profits and an even bigger share of the market, they are back to their old ways again.
In 2013 Tesco sales for the first half of the year were 23% down.
Last year Tesco introduced customer face recognition cameras.
Despite protests Tesco sell live turtles for food in their stores in China.
During the horsemeat scandal Tesco was criticised by the advertising watchdog over a misleading campaign.
In that scandal Tesco sold burgers containing 29% horsemeat and other products with even higher proportions of horse meat.
Foie gras, liver pate made by force-feeding ducks and geese is illegal in 15 countries including the UK. Tesco sell it in Hungary.
This article first appeared in the Morning Star 7 March 2014