I love sardines and recently discovered the Wild Planet brand, which uses wild sardines “sustainably caught along the California coast” packed in tins that are “certified BPA free,” two important details for me. Even more important, Wild Planet’s sardines are delicious and a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
One small detail, though, caught my eye. Wild Planet sardines are “processed in Vietnam.” I thought this strange and made me question the “caught along the California coast” claim.
I went to the Wild Planet website and the issue was addressed on the “Facts and Questions” page:
Why are Wild Planet tuna and sardines caught in the US but packed in Vietnam?Wild Planet’s frank disclosure is a refreshing change; I rarely see such openness from a food company. Some of the major internationals don’t list basic information, including the ingredients of their heavily-processed foodstuffs, on their websites. My follow-up phone calls are sometimes met with attitude, incompetence or a mix of both.
Unfortunately, there is no US sardine or tuna cannery capable of processing our volume requirements and the last sardine factory in the United States closed in 2010. In addition, the US cost of production would greatly increase the retail price beyond the reach of most families. Our goal is to make US-sourced sustainable seafood choices mainstream and thus have a greater impact on fishery harvest practices for the long-term good of ocean conservation.
We have elected to process our 5oz cans of albacore and skipjack tuna as well as our sardines in a highly respected partner facility in Vietnam. This facility offers state-of-the-art canning expertise in an immaculately clean, accredited environment that produces higher quality finished products than any cannery we have seen in the US.