“A lot of millennials don’t even own can openers,” Andy Mecs, vice-president of marketing and innovation for tuna company Star-Kist, told the Journal, which reported that “just 32% of consumers aged 18 to 34 recently bought canned fish or shellfish, compared with 45% of those 55 years old and older, according to market-research firm Mintel”.
The story acknowledged that sales of fresh and frozen tuna were on the rise in the younger age group. This raised a couple of questions about millennials. If they’re too lazy to use can openers, why are they buying more fresh fish - which is much more labour-intensive to prepare? Maybe it’s not about cans at all?
“Ah, yes, millennials are abandoning canned tuna because we’re lazy and not because, uh, it’s gross as hell,” Jamelle Bouie, Slate’s chief political correspondent, tweeted.
And BuzzFeed’s Tom Gara tweeted: “There’s only one way to get millennials eating tuna again: it needs to be in a bright white unmarked can with a single blue stripe running across the middle, sold only via online subscription for $5 a month.”
It’s true that a can opener is not as much of a kitchen necessity as it used to be. Studies have shown that millennials are less likely to cook at home, and decluttering and living a minimalist lifestyle have been major trends among young people in recent years. But that doesn’t explain why millennials aren’t eating too much tuna, as it’s easy to find pull-tab cans from large-scale brands.
Here’s an alternate theory: maybe millennials aren’t eating as much tuna because they grew up learning about how dolphins were often killed in tuna nets. Or maybe it’s because they’re a health-conscious generation that worries about mercury poisoning. Or maybe it’s because it’s a generation that cares about the environment and struggles to accept the level of tuna-overfishing? (Okay, it’s still the generation that made Ahi poke bowls mega-popular, so maybe not that one.)
Perhaps it’s just the unglamorous packaging and stodgy connotations of a can. After all, several food trend prognosticators have written about how chefs and tastemakers have sparked an interest in high-quality imported preserved seafood lately.
But when they talk about it, they don’t call those sardines canned - they’re tinned. Washington Post