John West business in Australia secures MSC certification

John West business in Australia secures MSC certification

John West Australia, the tuna group owned by US-based agrifood business JR Simplot, has secured Marine Stewardship Council certification for the bulk of the products it markets in the country.

In 2012, the company pledged to source only purse seine caught skipjack tuna, caught using independently-verified FAD-Free methods by the end of 2015.

However, during the process, John West Australia worked to secure MSC certification. The company told just-food 95% of the products it sells in Australia will contain MSC-certified tuna.

Patrick Caleo, Asia Pacific director for the MSC, said John West Australia had made a "monumental move to help keep our oceans healthy". He added: "This is the largest offering of MSC labelled canned tuna in the world."

Environmental campaign group WWF also welcomed the move. 

"Our oceans are in crisis due to a history of mismanagement by humanity. As a result of a collaborative effort by WWF, MSC and John West, Australians will now see over 100 million cans of clearly labelled MSC-certified sustainably sourced tuna in supermarkets. The magnitude of this - affecting a huge 43% of Australia's canned tuna - make this a world first," Dermot O'Gorman, CEO of WWF Australia, said.

JR Simplot acquired the John West business in Australia in 2003 from Unilever. Six years earlier, Unilever had sold the bulk of the John West business to Heinz.

In 2006, Heinz sold its European seafoods business to France's MWBrands, which was itself owned by Lehman Brothers. Four years later, Thai Union Group snapped up MWBrands.