While Bumble Bee has made great strides towards improving their fishery practices, it still remains to be seen if their efforts will produce meaningful change. Albacore remains an endangered species and it is important to keep in mind where the food you eat is sourced from. In conclusion, Bumble Bee still has a long way to go in order to produce their products sustainability, but have made necessary decisions to guide this change. If you are looking for a healthy and affordable source of protein, Bumble Bee Solid White Albacore is a decent choice, but if you are looking to be more environmentally conscious there may be better options.
Cheap, healthy, easily available
Uncertified fisheries, lack of transparency
Ingredients: White tuna, soybean oil, vegetable broth, sea salt
Any canned product that contains white tuna is actually Albacore otherwise known as Long Fin Tuna. This species is currently listed as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
This is one of the most widely used oil in the world and is commonly found in many processed foods. Much of the world’s soybeans are produced in Brazil or the U.S. who make up over 70% of global production. Soybean production has been found to be a major driver of deforestation in some areas. It is unclear where Bumble Bee sources their oil from.
Bumble Bee utilizes steel cans for this particular product which is a material that can be reused indefinitely. Most cans today utilize a liner which can leach endocrine disrupting chemicals such as BPA. Bumble bee claims to use BPA-free cans for all their products.
Bumble Bee claims that 45% of their Albacore is sourced from Fishery Improvement Projects (FIP) which aims to incentivize changes towards sustainability with the goal of meeting or exceeding Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standards. Currently less than 1% of the Albacore used by Bumble Bee is certified by the MSC. Bumble Bee are currently working towards reaching MSC certification of their Albacore fisheries by 2025. In order to ensure sustainable practices, they plan to fully audit all tuna they purchase with third party oversight by 2025.
The fishing practices used to catch albacore are monitored in FIP’s and are limited to pole and line or handline fishing. The rest of their Albacore can be sourced from a variety of fishing techniques, but purse seine fishing is the preferred method. This can be potentially harmful as issues can arise from ocean pollution from abandoned fishing gear. In addition to this, purse seine fishing can be enhanced with the use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) which increase efficiency but can contribute to ocean waste and increased bycatch rates. In order to mitigate this, Bumble Bee joined the Global Ghost Gear Initiative in 2018 which aims to reduce, remove, and recycle ghost gear in the ocean.
Bumble Bee claims that all their tuna is processed locally in the area that it was caught. All the tuna that Bumble Bee processes is then sent back to the U.S. where it is canned. One thing to keep in mind is the amount of fossil fuels consumed during the fishing, processing, and cannery processes and transportation across the world.
Bumble Bee Seafoods was recently acquired by FCF Co, Ltd., one of the world’s largest tuna suppliers in 2020. This has raised some concerns as a Greenpeace report claims that certain FCF fishing vessels participated in illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing practices and found that the working conditions were less than ideal. It is unclear as to whether these incidents are isolated or if there is a larger systematic issue at hand.
Bumble Bee has made efforts in recent years to be more transparent with the launch of several sustainability oriented campaigns/programs. They helped to found the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation with other large tuna producers, scientific experts, and the WWF. They also launched the Trace My Catch initiative in 2015, which allows consumers to identify the source of their seafood with the use of blockchain.