My 10-year-old daughter loves to make tuna fish salad – and she’s pretty good at it. The other day, we had run out of the Wild Planet Solid Albacore tuna. I usually find it in a multipack to save a little cash. We ran to the nearest store and the price of a single can struck me. Wild Planet was more than $4. On the same shelf was a can of Bumblebee for less than $2.
“OK, just this once,” I thought and grabbed the Bumble Bee tuna.
And that got me thinking. Why was I paying extra for Wild Planet tuna? Reflecting, I think I had made the decision because Wild Planet was caught using a pole-and-line versus a net. I also remembered how proud they seemed to tell me to be careful NOT to drain the juice from their tuna. But maybe I am, like most of the rest of us, a sucker for good marketing. So I decided I would compare the two solid albacore tunas side by side.
Comparing Bumble Bee and Wild Planet Tuna
This review compares Bumble Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water and Wild Planet Solid Albacore Tuna. We will look at:
- Nutritional and other information on the outside of each can.
- Texture and
Looking at the top panel of the two brands of tuna, Bumblebee’s choice of fonts reads more clearly. And the message is clear. “Only Bumble Bee Albacore Will Do” and “Not All Tuna is Created Equal” certainly sends the message that the tuna in the can is a premium tuna, no need to look elsewhere. For facts, we learn that the tuna is “wild caught” and Non-GMO Project Verified.
The Wild Planet can also has a marketing pitch, telling us that its tuna is “Wildly Good” for the planet, for you and has “Wildly Good Taste.” For facts, we learn that this tuna is 100% Pole and Line Caught. We also learn, in smaller print, that Wild Planet uses “smaller albacore” and that these smaller fish contain less mercury than the larger tuna.
Less mercury is certainly an important consideration when The Mercury News tells us:
it’s important to know that most tuna is so high in mercury that adults should eat no more than one can per week.
Ingredients and Fat Content Comparison in Wild Planet and Bumble Bee Tuna
Looking at the ingredients list for both brands of tuna, it was a case of what I’d call “real food” versus “industrial food.”
Wild Planet tuna contained:
That’s it, not even water, just the natural juices of the fish. That’s the reason why Wild Planet is so keen on telling us not to drain the liquid when preparing the tuna.
Bumble Bee, on the other hand, included:
One important result of including only the fish (and salt) in the Wild Planet can of tuna is revealed at a glance at the nutrition label. Wild Planet tuna contains 2.5g of fat. Bumble Bee? Zero. This means that Wild Planet tuna retains its valuable Omega-3s, 600mg of DHA and EPA on average. Bumble Bee makes no mention of Omega-3 levels. According to Tuna Guys,
The large national brands of tuna lose most of the omega-3s in a pre-cooking process before the fish is put in the can with water or vegetable oil, and sell the extracted omega-3 oil to supplement manufacturers.
So, if you’re buying tuna assuming that you’re getting a healthy dose of Omega-3, well, all the more reason to be particular and go with a “real food” brand like Wild Planet.
Here’s a comparison table for some of the details on both brands of tuna:
Appearance, Texture and Taste Comparisons of Bumble Bee and Wild Planet Tuna
When I opened the two cans of tuna, the differences continued. Looking back, I see I should have, given the differences in the ingredients, expected different appearance. The Bumble Bee tuna tended to look more like a gel while Wild Planet tuna looked more like a piece of fish in its own juice (which is what it is). Of course, neither piece looked as appealing as a fresh tuna steak but a fresh tuna steak loses a lot in the way of convenience.
When it came time to mince up the tuna to make tuna salad, the difference in consistency was another variable I had not considered when making my original decision. The Bumble Bee tuna reminded me of the consistency of farmed Atlantic salmon filets (which are soft compared to wild salmon) while Wild Planet tuna was firm and required extra effort to break into small pieces.
And finally, taste. Simply put, Wild Planet tuna, when tasted (“plain” – no seasoning or mayo or anything like that added) next to Bumble Bee tuna had a robust flavor. Even with its added vegetable broth (that is there, for one reason, to enhance the flavor of the tuna, Bumble Bee tuna’s taste was flat.
Summary: Paying More for a Can of Tuna Probably Means Actually Getting Nutritional Value You are Eating it for in the first place.
Overall, my experience comparing Bumble Bee and Wild Planet Tuna reinforces my conviction that we can either eat real food or we can eat industrial food. I grew up under the assumption that top national brands selling a premium product meant I was eating healthy food. I am discovering that researching what is actually in the food I eat, where it came from, how it has been processed is a necessary step.
Or I can just go with the “feel good” messages industrial food producers consistently broadcast.
Note: My review was very limited, only two brands. You can find sustainability and taste reviews covering more national and eco-friendly brands at the following links: