The ruling follows a complaint in which this claim was contested. Remarkable: the College acknowledges that the claim is factually correct, but at the same time prohibits the use of the claim.
Seafood chef and co-founder of the sustainable fish brand Fish Tales, Bart van Olphen, is very disappointed with the verdict. Van Olphen: ‘We are very surprised about this. The College acknowledges that the claim is factually correct. But at the same time, the MEB prohibits the use of the claim from the point of view that the consumer may not understand the claim properly. We find it incomprehensible that we are not allowed to claim something that is actually correct. ‘ Van Olphen has been committed to sustainable fish since 2004. Through his award-winning cookbooks about fish and movies on YouTube and Instagram for which he travels around the world to make cooking videos, he carries out his mission to help more people enjoy sustainable seafood. Global players in the fishing industry don’t always seem happy with this one challenger. Listen to our #Crunch interview about this.
Five years ago, Van Olphen co-founded the Fish Tales brand, which aims to offer a sustainable alternative to industrial non-sustainable brands that sell tuna.
Twist in pronunciation
The twist now the Advertising Code Committee focuses on canned tuna, an important category in the supermarket shelf. Canned tuna is the most consumed fish product in Dutch households (followed by herring and fish fingers, ed.). The vast majority of tuna in the supermarket is not sustainably caught and comes from brands that only have a limited amount of MSC-certified tuna in their range. Fish Tales is the only brand that only offers MSC-certified tuna for all tuna products, the College acknowledges in the ruling. ‘Fish Tales is allowed to bring the fact that it is the only brand that only sells sustainable MSC-certified tuna caught with rod and line to the attention of the consumer’.
Sustainable brand versus sustainable product
However, propagating the claim ‘the only sustainable tuna brand in the Netherlands’ on packaging is not acceptable to the Board. According to the Board, the claim ‘the only sustainable tuna brand in the Netherlands’ could lead to misunderstandings among consumers and could give the impression that only Fish Tales sells sustainable tuna and that other suppliers of canned fish do not sell sustainable tuna. The consumer would not be able to distinguish between a sustainable brand and a sustainable product.
Van Olphen: ‘We think this is an underestimation of the consumer. We are not saying that we are the only one with sustainable tuna, but the only brand with only sustainable tuna. We are aware that such a claim on packaging is not very sympathetic. However, we feel compelled to do so because the vast majority of Dutch canned tuna consumption is still of unsustainable origin. Other brands must stop making it more beautiful than it is. The consumer must be informed honestly and correctly in order to make the right choice. Our fight will continue until all canned brands that sell tuna are over and all canned tuna in the Netherlands is sustainably certified, preferably fishing with a rod. Perhaps we should start using the College’s literal claim: “Fish Tales, the only brand that only sells sustainable MSC-certified rod-and-line tuna.”
(PvWK / MP)