Millennials are killing canned tuna, but the industry is fighting back

Bumble Bee Chunk Light Tuna in Oil

Geri Lavrov | Getty Images
Bumble Bee Chunk Light Tuna in Oil

Another one bites the dust. This time, millennials are killing canned tuna, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Consumption of canned tuna has dropped 42 percent per capita from the last 30 years through 2016, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. And the industry places the blame on younger consumers, who want fresher or more convenient options.

“A lot of millennials don’t even own can openers,” Andy Mecs, the vice president of marketing and innovation for Starkist, said to the Journal.

The struggle of the three largest canned tuna companies, StarKist, Bumble Bee Foods and Chicken of the Sea International, mirrors that of others in the packaged food industry, like Campbell Soup and Kraft Heinz. Younger consumers are turning away from processed foods, and new competitors are catering to changing tastes faster than the industry’s giants.

To Ken Harris, managing partner at Cadent Consulting Group, the bigger picture is about convenience.

“In the last 15 years, can openers became passe,” Harris told CNBC.

Harris, who has worked with canned tuna businesses, believes that the traditional companies have fallen behind because it’s a low-margin business and investing in packaging falls low on the list of priorities. The main priority for canned tuna companies now, according to Harris, should be packaging that makes it easy to remove and drain the tuna.

StarKist started re-thinking its product line-up in earnest about three to five years ago when the decline of tuna accelerated, Mecs said in an interview with CNBC. He remembered reading a newspaper article a few years ago about millennials recoiling from cereal because the bowl had to be cleaned. For him, the story reiterated how much consumers care about convenience.

Upstarts like Wild Planet Foods and Safe Catch market their tuna as safer and higher quality and are slowly eating into the big three’s market share, the Journal said. According to Nielsen data as of October, smaller brands (not including private labels) control 6.3 percent of the market, up from 3.7 percent in 2014, the Journal said.

To stage a comeback, the traditional tuna makers are taking a page from those brands. Bumble Bee and StarKist both have premium brands that they market as sustainable.

They’re also focusing on the products that are working. Tuna pouches don’t require a can opener, and StarKist told CNBC that sales of its pouches are increasing by 20 percent annually. For the first time, the Pittsburgh-based company sold more pouches than their most popular can size in 2018.

Kroger’s Home Chef, a meal-kit company, has partnered with the tuna brand to put its yellowfin tuna pouches in kits next year.

Bumble Bee and StarKist have also turned to flavors favored by millennials, like sriracha.

Chicken of the Sea is pitching it to younger consumers as a snack. The San Diego-based company started selling resealable cups of its flavored tuna this summer.

Bumble Bee and Chicken of the Sea weren’t immediately available for comment when CNBC reached out.

[“source=cnbc”]

HP, Apple Top List of Tech Companies Fighting Forced Labor Risk

HP, Apple Top List of Tech Companies Fighting Forced Labor Risk

HP Inc and Apple Inc topped a list issued on Thursday ranking how well technology companies combat the risk of forced labour in their supply chains.

Workers who make components in information and communications technology (ICT) companies’ supply chains are often migrants who are vulnerable to becoming forced labour, said the report by KnowTheChain, an online resource for business.

An estimated 21 million people are victims of forced labour around the world, according to the International Labour Organization. Forced labour is estimated to generate some $150 billion in illegal profits every year.

Forced labourers may be charged high recruitment fees to get jobs, be trapped in debt servitude, deprived of their passports or other documents, or made to work excessive hours for low pay, the report said.

KnowTheChain was founded by Humanity United, a US-based foundation, and other organizations in 2013.

HP, Apple, Intel Corp, Cisco Systems Inc and Microsoft scored highest on the list of 20 publicly traded ICT companies. At the bottom were Keyence, BOE Technology and Canon.

Eighteen of the 20 companies have publicly demonstrated a commitment to eradicating forced labour in their supply chain, the report said.

“However, far fewer of these companies also have strong processes in place to implement these commitments,” it said.

Overall, ICT companies are doing little to give workers a voice in their supply chains, such as enabling freedom of association or providing access to grievance mechanisms.

On the other hand, most companies are making efforts to trace their supply chains all the way down to the providers of commodities, such as minerals, it said.

Intel surveys its suppliers and visits smelters and refiners in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it said.

Companies were rated on factors such as public awareness and commitment, purchasing practices, monitoring and auditing processes.

In a statement, Apple said it was committed to treating everyone in its supply chain with dignity and respect.

“We are working hard to raise the bar every year to improve working conditions and protect human rights,” it said. “We are committed to the highest standards of social responsibility and continue working with industries toward combating human trafficking and slavery in supply chains.”

An HP spokesman said: “At HP we believe that our actions must focus on addressing some of the greatest challenges we face as a society, including combating human trafficking, forced labour, and other forms of exploitation of vulnerable workers.”

Intel, Microsoft, Kayence and Canon did not immediately respond to requests for comment, and BOE Technology could not be reached.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

Download the Gadgets 360 app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with the latest tech news, product reviews, and exclusive deals on the popular mobiles.

Tags: Apple, HP, KnowTheChain, Laptops, Mobiles, PC
[“Source-Gadgets”]