SPONSORED CONTENT -- (StatePoint) In an effort to better align with consumers’ values, many industries have made reforms to reduce their impact on the environment while better protecting workers. However, a new report says that for grocery stores, it’s business as usual when it comes to the way they source tuna.
The Tuna Retailer Report from Greenpeace USA, found at www.greenpeace.org, evaluated and graded the 16 largest grocery retailers in the U.S. market, looking at how careful the corporations were in ensuring that their tuna supply chains respected environmental sustainability and human rights standards. The bottom line: none of the retailers received a passing score on human rights issues or is doing enough to combat forced labor and modern slavery.
“We cannot afford slow or incremental progress when talking about these issues – these are people’s lives,” says Mallika Talwar, senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace USA, who notes that due to the isolated nature of deep sea fishing, workers are particularly vulnerable to mistreatment.
At the same time, the retailers are making slow but steady improvements in the area of environmental sustainability, with just two of the 16 retailers scoring a passing grade in this category.
Advocates say that U.S. consumers have largely been kept in the dark about these realities and retailers continue to make profits without making changes, but that the $42.2 billion industry can chart a different course.
“America’s largest grocery retailers have the economic power to influence change through their sourcing decisions and business practices,” says Talwar.
According to Talwar, it’s a growing problem. Nearly 6 million metric tons of tuna are removed from the ocean every year, an amount that has increased 1000% in six decades, according to researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of Western Australia. In 2018 alone, tuna vessels worldwide netted $11 billion, while grocery stores earned almost four times that amount from their sales of tuna products in the same year.
“We need at least one retailer to step forward and lead the way on human rights in the tuna industry. One company could be all that’s needed to start a trend that would make a huge difference in the lives of thousands of workers around the world,” says Marilu Cristina Flores, senior oceans campaigner, Greenpeace USA. “Consumers can also play a role in increasing visibility of these issues. As they’ve done with clothing manufacturers and other economic sectors, they can press their retailers to source their tuna responsibly.”
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