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Food & Drink

Tuna executive blames millennials for killing tuna sales

Frank Carnevale
| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, 11:18 a.m.
In this June 30, 2008 file photo a StarKist brand product is seen on a grocery store shelf in Boston. (AP Photo/Lisa Poole,File)
In this June 30, 2008 file photo a StarKist brand product is seen on a grocery store shelf in Boston. (AP Photo/Lisa Poole,File)

Wait. Millennials don’t own can openers?

That’s the argument one tuna fish executive is making in a story on the decline of canned tuna sales.

The Wall Street Journal (subscription needed) posted a story on Sunday about companies like StarKist, Bumble Bee and Chicken of the Sea dealing with a slumping market, especially driven down by a lackluster appetite for canned fish by younger people.

“A lot of millennials don’t even own can openers,” Andy Mecs, vice president of marketing and innovation for StarKist, based in Pittsburgh and a subsidiary of South Korea’s Dongwon Group, told the Journal.

Millennials have been blamed for killing lots of things - marriage, car ownership, house ownership, cereal — but this seemed a little odd, and lead to many responses on Twitter.

It seems can openers are sitting in millennials kitchen drawers, maybe they just are that into tuna according to posts on Twitter ?

Canned food items often come with pull-top lids, so can openers are not the essential kitchen item they may have been, but is that the reason for tuna’s fall off?

The New York Times pointed out that in the past, consumers were scared off by high levels of mercury in the fish. And in the 1980s there was a push to label tuna cans as dolphin-cruelty free.

And earlier this year StarKist agreed to plead guilty to a felony price fixing charge as part of a broad collusion investigation of the canned tuna industry. The company faces up to a $100 million fine when it is sentenced, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Frank Carnevale is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Frank at 412-380-8511, fcarnevale@tribweb.com or via Twitter @frnkstar.

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