Canned tuna is a $40 billion industry. But it’s facing some existential threats

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Valued at an estimated $40 billion, the tuna industry is a significant player in the global food sector.

The U.S. imported about 637.9 million pounds of tuna in 2021, according to the latest data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — nearly 71% of that was canned.

The industry is dominated by multinational companies such as Thai Union Group, the owner of Chicken of the Sea, and it faces some challenges.

Between 2000 and 2021, per capita consumption of tuna dropped 45%.

Shifting consumer preferences, market consolidation, sustainability, transparency concerns and a nearly decade-long price-fixing scandal all affected tuna’s popularity among Americans.

But in 2020, the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, demand increased for the affordable and protein-rich option and tuna notched its highest consumption level since 2011. Thai Union posted a nearly 19% profit increase that year over 2019.

However, Thai Union is now confronting rising costs due to inflation and the war between Russia and Ukraine. The company has implemented price hikes over the past two years and is exploring automation strategies to help offset rising costs.

What’s more, the company faces existential threats to the industry including sustainability, climate change and illegal fishing.

Watch the video above to learn more about the $40 billion tuna industry.

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