Tuna Shopping Guide

Open Tuna Can

How does your can stack up?

If you’re going to buy tuna, make sure to choose a sustainable and ethical option.

We’ve ranked 14 well-known canned tuna brands that can be found in grocery stores across the country based on how sustainable, ethical and fair their tuna products are for our oceans — and for the workers that help get the products to store shelves.

If you’re going to buy tuna, make sure to choose a sustainable and ethical option.

How the Brands Ranked

Click on a can to see the results

Next Can: #2 American Tuna

#1 Wild Planet

Wild Planet Tuna Can

#1 Wild Planet

Verdict

A go-to eco-brand, topping the ranks for its dedication to ensuring its tuna products are sustainable and responsible.

Which products are ocean safe?

All Wild Planet & Sustainable Seas brand canned tuna.

  • Wild Planet has a strong, fully implemented sustainable sourcing policy and provides information on its website to educate consumers about its products.
  • All Wild Planet products are pole and line or troll caught – two fishing methods with minimal impacts on other marine life.
  • Wild Planet supports protecting our oceans and has vowed not to source tuna from the proposed high seas ocean sanctuaries of the Western and Central Pacific.
  • The company provides important sustainability information on its canned tuna product labels, which allows its customers to know more about the tuna they buy.

Wild Planet Foods is a company dedicated to providing sustainable tuna products. Its Wild Planet and Sustainable Seas brands are found in many stores across the US and its market presence is growing with increased demand for responsibly-caught tuna. While traditionally thought of by many as a specialty product, this better option is now more accessible to consumers. The company’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond its products to its advocacy for positive industry change and stronger fisheries management.

Next Can: #3 Ocean Naturals

#2 American Tuna

American Tuna Can

#2 American Tuna

Verdict

A sustainable tuna brand through and through, also dedicated to supporting local and small-scale fishers.

Which products are ocean safe?

All American Tuna and Pole & Line brand canned tuna.

  • All tuna is caught by pole and line - a turtle, shark and seabird friendly fishing method.
  • All American Tuna products are traceable from sea to can and audited through its MSC certification.
  • American Tuna works to preserve artisanal fisheries and local, micro-canneries and works to build community among small-scale fishers from different countries.
  • Key information about American Tuna and Pole & Line brands are found on product labels and the company’s website.
  • Formalizing the company’s sustainability practices into a written policy will help take its commitment to ocean safe tuna one step further.

American Tuna is a San Diego-based company created by six pole and line fishing families. The company offers products under its flagship brand, American Tuna and its Pole & Line brand in Whole Foods Markets, specialty markets, and food service providers across the country. Though a smaller brand, American Tuna is well-known by US eco-conscious shoppers. American Tuna takes its commitment beyond just ensuring ocean safe tuna by including organic ingredients to compliment the tuna, reducing waste by providing albacore offcuts to other fisheries for bait, and ensuring products are packaged in BPA-free cans.

Next Can: #4 Whole Foods

#3 Ocean Naturals

Ocean Naturals Tuna Can

#3 Ocean Naturals

Verdict

This newer brand is one to look out for, as it’s determined to provide ocean safe tuna nationwide.

Which products are ocean safe?

All Ocean Naturals brand canned tuna.

  • Ocean Naturals is the company's flagship brand representing the sustainability vision laid out in Tri Marine’s comprehensive sustainability policy.
  • The company has a made a public commitment against destructive practices like shark finning and reflects this commitment through its sourcing of pole and troll albacore.
  • Tri Marine has the goal of 100% of Ocean Naturals tuna to be locally fished and processed in American Samoa supporting coastal tuna fishing communities.
  • Ocean Naturals' FAD Free skipjack is fully traceable from ship to shelf and confirmed through audits.
  • While ocean conversation is on Tri Marine’s radar, a commitment not to source from proposed high seas ocean sanctuaries in the Pacific is an important next step.

Ocean Naturals is owned by Tri Marine – one of the biggest tuna traders in the world. Starting as an offering in Walmart, this brand is growing and will be popping up on other supermarket shelves in the year to come. For a company of this size, Tri Marine is an unparalleled frontrunner. The company’s internal sourcing policies are comprehensive and once fully implemented have the potential to be a game changer in the tuna world; provided the Ocean Naturals standards are promoted across all supply relationships.

Next Can: #5 Hy-Vee

#4 Whole Foods

Whole Foods Market Tuna Can

#4 Whole Foods

Verdict

Any 365 tuna choice is a better one at this supermarket, but transparency could be improved.

Which products are ocean safe?

All 365 Everyday Value brand skipjack and albacore.

  • All 365 Everyday Value tuna is caught using pole and line – a fishing method with minimal impacts on other marine life.
  • 365 Everyday Value products indicate the species and catch method on tuna labels.
  • Whole Foods could have more information about its more sustainable tuna products on its website and in stores.
  • Whole Foods should take better ownership of its chain of custody relationship and not rely so much on its suppliers.
  • While ensuring sustainable tuna is in the way Whole Foods does business, clarifying its sustainability and equitability sourcing requirements in a policy is key.

Whole Foods Market is the world’s largest purveyor of natural and organic products and is a known leader in seafood sustainability. However, while the company has a strong general seafood sustainability policy, Whole Foods does not have a specific canned tuna policy. With some additional attention to its canned tuna sourcing, Whole Foods’ rapid growth will allow the company to continue driving positive change in the industry and on the water.

Next Can: #6 Trader Joe's

#5 Hy-Vee

Hy-Vee Tuna Can

#5 Hy-Vee

Verdict

Some good choices available but watch out for products not labeled with pole and line or pole and troll.

Which products are ocean safe?

Hy-Vee Select “Responsible Choice” skipjack and albacore tuna.

  • Hy-Vee offers more sustainable pole and line skipjack and pole and troll caught albacore.
  • Information is provided on Hy-Vee’s website and blog about sustainability concerns associated with tuna to help educate its customers.
  • Hy-Vee offers a pole and line yellowfin product, but there are stock health concerns in one region where it sources from.
  • Hy-Vee’s sustainable seafood policy does not specifically outline goals to transition all of Hy-Vee canned tuna products to sustainable options.
  • A significant portion of Hy-Vee tuna products still come from destructive fisheries.

Hy-Vee is an employee-owned private company operating in the Midwest. Over the last few years, this retailer got serious about seafood sustainability. To move toward the green ranked category and continue demonstrating leadership, we encourage Hy-Vee to only sell sustainable tuna under its private label. Based on the leadership seen so far, we expect to see big changes from this retailer.

Next Can: #7 Safeway

#6 Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's Tuna Can

#6 Trader Joe's

Verdict

Good option to save some turtles and sharks, but more attention needed to ensure products are green across the board.

Which products are ocean safe?

Trader Joe’s brand skipjack tuna.

  • Trader Joe’s brand skipjack and yellowfin tuna is all caught using pole and line – a more selective fishing method.
  • Trader Joe’s albacore tuna comes from longline fisheries that employ bycatch mitigation measures to reduce the impact on sharks, turtles and seabirds.
  • The company has not solidified their tuna sourcing requirements into a public sourcing policy.
  • Trader Joe’s does not have a social responsibility policy to ensure its tuna does not come from operations engaged in human rights violations.
  • Trader Joe’s sources some of its tuna from unhealthy tuna stocks.

Trader Joe’s operates more than 450 stores across the country, and in recent years has focused on offering more sustainable seafood. The company has taken some strong action to green its tuna, but needs to go further by ensuring rigorous sourcing requirements and improving transparency.

Next Can: #8 Costco

#7 Safeway

Safeway Tuna Can

#7 Safeway

Verdict

Good options available, but a lack of a public policy leaves consumers with questions.

Which products are ocean safe?

Safeway brand skipjack.

  • Skipjack is caught by purse seines fishing free-school, reducing bycatch of other species.
  • Safeway brand albacore is caught by longlines that employ techniques that reduce the catch of sharks, turtles and seabirds.
  • Safeway has not made its canned tuna sourcing requirements public in a policy.
  • Increased consumer education would complement Safeway’s initiatives well.
  • Safeway relies too heavily on its tuna suppliers for its chain of custody information and should conduct third party audits to ensure its tuna meets its own requirements.

Following Safeway’s acquisition by Albertsons, the newly merged company is the fourth largest grocery retailer in the US. Safeway was one of the first out of the gate to completely switch its private label skipjack tuna to more sustainable sources. However, uncertainty around the merger contributed to the company performing poorly in this year’s ranking. With the formalization of all sourcing requirements into a policy and better traceability mechanisms in place, Safeway can regain its position as a sustainable seafood leader while also bringing along Albertsons.

Next Can: #9 Target

#8 Costco

Costco Tuna Can

#8 Costco

Verdict

If you’re shopping for Costco tuna, make sure it’s only for Kirkland Signature skipjack.

Which products are ocean safe?

Kirkland Signature brand skipjack.

  • Kirkland Signature skipjack is caught by purse seines fishing free-school.
  • While Costco did a nice job promoting its sustainable skipjack product in its customer magazine, it should make this information and its commitment more easily accessible on its website.
  • Costco’s seafood policy lacks detailed canned tuna sourcing requirements.
  • Some Kirkland Signature albacore is sourced from unhealthy tuna stocks.
  • Kirkland Signature albacore is currently sourced from destructive longline fisheries.

Costco Wholesale Corporation is a membership-based warehouse club, and the third largest retail chain in the US operating nationwide. Sustainable tuna on Costco’s shelves means that more people have access to better tuna options. Costco made waves in 2014 with its skipjack, and this year needs to seal the deal with its albacore. With its business model of limited choice, let’s hope this retail giant will soon offer only sustainable and ethical options.

Next Can: #10 Walmart

#9 Target

Target Tuna Can

#9 Target

Verdict

Simply Balanced is the only safe bet, avoid the rest

Which products are ocean safe?

Simply Balanced skipjack and albacore tuna.

  • Under its Simply Balanced brand, Target sources skipjack and albacore from pole and line fisheries that result in negligible impacts on other marine life.
  • Simply Balanced products contain comprehensive labeling that include how the species was caught as well as how it wasn’t with a "No longlines" logo.
  • Target needs to get a better handle on its chain of custody and not rely on its suppliers for all of its sourcing information.
  • Target’s seafood policy does not cover its Market Pantry canned tuna and work is needed to reconcile the policy with this problematic brand.
  • Market Pantry brand canned tuna is sourced from fisheries employing destructive fisheries like purse seines using FADs and conventional longlines.

Target’s “big box” store concept is based on low prices and trendy products, which it offers across the US. Target made progress by introducing more sustainable options under its Simply Balanced brand, but has yet to chart a course for the rest of its private label tuna products. A lack of clarity about its overall tuna procurement picture landed this retailer in the red. By creating clear sustainability goals through a tuna sourcing policy, Target could easily climb the ranks next time around.

Next Can: #11 Chicken of the Sea

#10 Walmart

Walmart Tuna Can

#10 Walmart

Verdict

Great Value is anything but great for sharks and turtles, don’t buy this brand if you are an ocean-lover.

Which products are ocean safe?

None.

  • Walmart has a publicly available human welfare and rights policy, but it is unclear if it applies to its canned tuna sourcing in the absence of transparency through audits.
  • Walmart has yet to release an updated sustainability policy containing canned tuna sourcing requirements to eliminate the use of FADs and conventional longlines, and the jury is out on whether it will meet the sustainability bar.
  • Great Value brand tuna products lack important labeling information like what species is actually in the can.
  • Transparency in Walmart’s supply chain would significantly improve the company’s ranking, and allow customers to make more informed decisions. Walmart declined to provide information to Greenpeace about its sourcing.

Walmart is the largest retailer in the US and, as such, is an important force in the canned tuna market. Unfortunately this market powerbroker has been slow to act and wield its buying power for good. Great Value customers have to look elsewhere for ocean safe skipjack and albacore Great Value tuna until Walmart follows the lead of its UK counterpart, Asda and commits to go green. Walmart can act now and help lead the sustainable tuna movement, or drown in a sea of ocean destruction.

Next Can: #12 Bumble Bee

#11 Chicken of the Sea

Chicken of the Sea Tuna Can

#11 Chicken of the Sea

Verdict

No signs of ensuring fish for the future by this brand, best to avoid.

Which products are ocean safe?

None.

  • Chicken of the Sea has a sustainability commitment on its website including an anti-shark finning policy; however, it fails to address how its products will be truly sustainable.
  • The company has a policy on its website covering human rights and equity but it’s unclear whether suppliers are meeting these requirements.
  • Chicken of the Sea sources its tuna from fishing methods that unnecessarily kill vulnerable marine life.
  • This brand lacks important information on product labels about the origin of its tuna.
  • Chicken of the Sea claims it is committed to transparency but it provides little information about where and how the tuna was caught and refused to answer questions about its sourcing.

Chicken of the Sea, a subsidiary of the world’s biggest tuna company Thai Union, is the third largest tuna brand in the US market. Occupying about 20 percent of the market, this brand also occupies a lot of shelf space in supermarket aisles across the country. While the company claims it’s dedicated to ensuring sustainable products, we have yet to find one under its brand. Ranking slightly above the other two big brands, this company could break away from its competitors if it made a commitment to offer customers across the country ocean safe tuna.

Next Can: #13 Kroger

#12 Bumble Bee

Bumble Bee Tuna Can

#12 Bumble Bee

Verdict

Cute bee, terrible brand. For the love of the oceans, avoid this tuna brand and its greenwashing ways.

Which products are ocean safe?

None.

  • Bumble Bee has a sustainability policy available on its website and offers a wealth of information about tuna fisheries, but lacks a plan to transition to sustainable sources.
  • Bumble Bee has offered a Marine Stewardship Council certified canned tuna line under its Wild Selections brand; however, it is distinct from its Bumble Bee supply chain.
  • Bumble Bee brand does not offer any sustainable options that do not needlessly kill marine life like sharks, turtles, and rays.
  • Bumble Bee does not have adequate checks and balances in place to ensure its tuna does not come from operations engaged in labor and human rights abuses.
  • Bumble Bee tuna labels currently do not indicate the common name of the species inside the can, or how and where it was caught and it refused to answer Greenpeace’s inquiries about its sourcing.

Bumble Bee Foods, North America’s largest branded shelf stable seafood company , occupies over a quarter of the US market share of canned tuna. Soon to be part of the world’s largest tuna company, Bumble Bee has the responsibility to use its buying power and influence for positive change on the water. Instead, this brand is more greenwash than green action, playing off its Wild Selections brand as an eco-solution when it’s really an eco-shield for the dirty tuna plaguing its flagship brand.

Next Can: #14 Starkist

#13 Kroger

Kroger Tuna Can

#13 Kroger

Verdict

The contents of this brand is an unsolved mystery, avoid at all cost.

Which products are ocean safe?

None.

  • Kroger does not have a sustainability policy that covers its canned tuna.
  • Kroger brand tuna comes from destructive fisheries that take a massive toll on marine life like sharks and turtles.
  • Kroger does not have a detailed social responsibility policy to ensure its products are ethical and fair.
  • Kroger does not supply basic information about the type of tuna, catch method or where the tuna was caught on product labels.
  • Kroger is not transparent about its tuna sourcing practices and refused to answer any of Greenpeace’s questions about its supply chain.

Kroger is the largest traditional grocery chain in the US and could be a powerful force in improving ocean health. However, the company’s lack of transparency has left many questions about whether it intends to make a move towards sourcing ocean safe tuna, but currently all signs point to "no". Perhaps its partner organization World Wildlife Fund (WWF) can help convince this eco-slacker to commit to be part of the ocean safe tuna solution.

#14 StarKist

StarKist Tuna Can

#14 StarKist

Verdict

This brand has something to hide, and we bet it’s ocean destruction.

Which products are ocean safe?

None.

  • Starkist has a vague corporate responsibility statement on its website and does not detail how it ensures its products are addressing issues of human rights or equitable sourcing.
  • Starkist product labels provide no information about the tuna inside the cans.
  • Starkist sources from destructive fisheries that kills tons of marine life as bycatch.
  • This company is not transparent about the origins of its tuna and refused to respond to any of Greenpeace’s inquiries about its supply chain.

Starkist, owned by Dongwon, has the largest market share of any canned tuna brand in the US. Scraping the bottom of the ranking, Starkist’s failure to take sustainability seriously is trashing our oceans to offer cheap and dirty tuna nationwide. It is not only the poorest performer, but along with other red ranked brands is dragging the industry down. It’s time Starkist starts thinking of the future of its business and invests in healthy tuna stocks and ocean ecosystems.

Stand Up for Better Tuna

Walmart's low prices come at a high cost for ocean life and may put seafood workers at risk.

Tell Walmart to take responsibility for what it sells right now!

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Decode the Can

Tuna labels can be confusing and make it hard to actually know what you’re buying. Here is a list of terms that you may find on a label to help you better understand what is actually in the can!

Albacore

Commonly found in cans in the US. Also known as white meat or white tuna. Some stocks are healthy, some are not. Hard to know without additional information about where it was caught. Pacific stocks are in better shape.

Bigeye

One of the most overfished tuna species. Listed as a vulnerable species by the IUCN. Avoid these products.

Bycatch

Marine life unintentionally caught and often killed when fishing, like sharks, turtles and juvenile tuna. Some fishing methods have a higher rate of bycatch than others such as conventional longlines and purse seines employing fish aggregating devices (FADs).

Circle Hook (also Longline fishing or Longlining)

This is a fishing method where a fishing line, often several miles long, is set out into the ocean with secondary lines containing baited hooks to catch tuna. Because it is so indiscriminate, sea turtles and other marine life often bytake the bait. By making the hooks more circular, it reduces the likelihood of turtles being caught on the hook. It means the brand is trying to lessen its impact on marine life — but it does not mean it is 100% sustainable.

Country of Origin

This means where the tuna was caught.

Country of Production

This means where most of the processing has taken place.

Dolphin Safe / Dolphin Friendly

Dolphin Safe

Dolphin safe does not mean ocean safe. It means that one fishing method that targets tuna that swim with dolphins is not used to catch the tuna. What about the rays and turtles?!

FADs or Fish Aggregating Devices

Fish and marine life are attracted to these floating objects. When used with purse seine nets they can result in the catch and death of various species.

FAD Free

This tuna was caught by purse seine nets without the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs), which attract and result in the catch of lots of animals other than tuna. A better choice.

Free School Caught

This is another way of saying FAD Free. It means that the tuna were caught by purse seine nets not using fish aggregating devices (FADs) or setting on marine mammals. Other marine life are less impacted when fishing free school, so it is a better option.

Friend of the Sea

Friend of the Sea

This phrase actually indicates a certification scheme of sustainable seafood products from fisheries and aquaculture. Not the most rigorous of certifications. Make sure to look at how the tuna was caught and if the species is a better option.

Handline

A single fishing line is held in a fishers hand to catch tuna one by one. Impacts on other species are minimal. A more sustainable choice.

Illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU)

Also known as pirate fishing, they steal fish, exacerbating the overfishing crisis.

Light tuna

A term used to refer to skipjack, yellowfin, and sometimes bigeye tuna. Most often it will be skipjack, but check the ingredients list to be sure.

Long lines (also Longliners or Longlining)

Fishing lines sometimes dozens of miles long, baited with thousands of hooks. Very indiscriminate fishing gear and highly destructive.

Marine reserves (or ocean sanctuaries)

Similar to national parks on land, they are areas free from fishing and other industrial activities. Safe havens like this are essential to replenish marine ecosystems.

MSC

MSC

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is a certification scheme for wild fisheries. MSC certified products are supposed to meet certain sustainability criteria. Certified products carry a blue and white logo with a fish and a check mark. In many cases, it means a better option for tuna, but best to also look for what species is inside and how it was caught.

No Longlines

This tuna was caught without using longlines, which stretch for miles with thousands of hooks that can cause the drowning of species incidentally caught like seabirds, sharks and turtles. “No longlines” on the label is a sign of a an ocean safe option!

Ocean Wise

Ocean Wise

The Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise logo can be found on some products that the organization deems sustainable. Ocean Wise recommendations are determined using the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program assessment methodology. Likely a better option, but the logo is not always well policed.

Pole and Line Caught (could read just “Pole Caught”)

A fishing methods that catches tuna one-by-one with the use of a pole, usually several fishers line the perimeter of a boat and catch the tuna at the same time using baitfish. Impacts on other species are minimal. A best choice.

Pole and Troll Caught

This means the tuna was either caught using pole and line or troll. The tuna was not separated to help determine the exact fishing method it came from, so the specific method is not labeled. Both are better options.

Product of

Most of the processing of that product has occurred in the named country.

Purse seines

Giant nets that encircle schools of fish and then are drawn tight like a drawstring purse. Very destructive when used with fish aggregating devices (FADs) and how most tuna is caught. Look for FAD-free instead.

Responsibly Caught

You need more information to ensure this is true. Some brands have this as a label they use, but dig a little deeper to find out what this means before taking their word for it.

Skipjack

The most abundant species of tuna. Often noted as light tuna on the can.

Sustainably Caught

Unless this is accompanied by information about the species and how it was caught, don’t take their word for it.

Tongol

A species occasionally found in cans in the US. Less is known about tongol stocks than other tuna species, so it’s best to avoid these products.

Troll Caught (also Troll)

A method of fishing known as trolling where one or more jigged fishing lines are towed through the water behind a slow moving boat. A jig is a rubber lure. It is a selective method with minimal catch of other marine life. A much better option.

Turtle Safe

This means that a fishing method was employed that prevents the accidental catch of turtles. It’s usually found on products caught using pole or troll methods.

Wild Caught

This just means that the tuna was caught in the ocean and not farmed (which is very rare for canned tuna species). It sounds nice, but means nothing when it comes to its sustainability.

White tuna

A term used to describe albacore tuna.

Yellowfin

A species often found in cans in the US. Sometimes referred to as light meat. Many stocks have been overfished and have suffered declines. Best to avoid.