Thai Union surpasses sustainable sourcing goals

Seafood giant Thai Union Group has surpassed its 2020 sustainable sourcing goals for tuna, pledging to go further by installing electronic monitoring on all tuna vessels.

Thai Union surpasses sustainable sourcing goals

Thai Union's annual tuna sales exceed $4.2bn 

The company’s SeaChange sustainability strategy details its ‘Tuna Commitment’, which ran from 2016 to 2020, committing Thai Union to sourcing at least 75% of tuna from fisheries certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or from fisheries in certified improvement projects (FIPs).

Thai Union, which owns brands including John West and Chicken of the Sea, announced late last week that around 87% of the tuna it sourced in 2020 met these sourcing requirements.

Building on this strong progress, the business has renewed its Tuna Commitment through to 2025 with a set of updated targets. The targets include a pledge to reach the 100% certified tuna mark.

Another new ambition is to install electronic monitoring technologies on all fishing vessels for tuna. Thai Union is working with The Nature Conservancy to reach this milestone of 100% ‘on-the-water’ monitoring, having added monitoring technologies to all longline vessels in recent years.

The monitoring commitment supports a pledge from Thai Union to source all tuna from vessels and suppliers that “demonstrate Operational Best Practice to prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and modern slavery”.

Thai Union is additionally requiring all vessels to report data and implement marine conservation measures in line with the resolutions of Regional Fishery Management Organisations. These are the international organisations that regulate regional fishing activities in the majority of the world’s seas.

Interim targets on the road to the 2025 goals will be developed by Thai Union in the coming months, the company has confirmed. As with the previous Tuna Commitment, progress will be reported annually.

Thai Union’s chief executive and president Thiraphong Chansiri said: “I’m incredibly proud of the progress that Thai Union has made towards our goal of ensuring 100% of our branded tuna is from sustainable fisheries, but we know we have a lot more work to do, which is why we have set new goals for 2025.

“Traceability remains critical to achieving these goals, and we will continue to work with our customers and stakeholders to ensure these are met, reflecting our commitment to prevent modern slavery and IUU fishing in our supply chains.”

Embedded approach 

Earlier this year, Thai Union signed on for a $400m sustainability-linked loan package with interest payments linked to climate, environment and due diligence targets.

Shortly after the loan was announced, then-global director of corporate affairs and sustainability Darian McBain gave an exclusive interview with edie, outlining learnings from the loan process and from her broader work in seafood sustainability during Covid-19.

McBain recently announced that she has stepped down from this role after more than six years with Thai Union, and is yet to confirm her next role.

In a LinkedIn post, she wrote: “As one of the first seafood companies to hire a chief sustainability officer reporting to the chief executive, my role has taken me from European yellow cards to US TIP reports, from global campaigns by NGOs against to awesome collaborations with NGOs for issues from fishery improvement projects to alternative proteins. It has been anything but dull.“

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Sarah George

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