Big Tuna blames millennials for its failures

Opening a can of tuna is hard, the Wall Street Journal reported this week. Millennials can’t be bothered opening the can and draining the oil/water and then preparing the tuna. Just thinking about the process makes us want to take a nap; it’s all so exhausting.

That’s pretty much the best the newspaper could come up with to explain why the sales of cans of tuna are dropping.

Oh, and this from the marketing boss at Starkist: “A lot of millennials don’t even own can openers,” he said.


Tuna has a history that Big Tuna likes to ignore in favor of generational condescension, the New York Times notes. It slaughtered dolphins in the hunt for tuna. It had mercury. And the industry engaged in a conspiracy to rig the price.

But, sure, can openers.

Also, and this might be significant: for many people, tuna stinks.

Meanwhile, the sale of fresh fish is on the rise among millennials, which conflicts with the too-lazy-to-open-a-can theory, the Washington Post notes.

Blaming millennials for being lazy comes with risks. After all, what generation invented the microwave oven and fast-food drive-throughs?

Related: You’ve probably been using your can opener the wrong way (Boing Boing)

  • MrE85

    Big Cereal made similar claims against millennials, suggesting their slumping sales was due to young people too lazy to wash a bowl and spoon.

    Your response, young people of NewsCut? You are out there, amiright?

    • I’m not by anyone’s definition “young”, but I can’t remember the last time I ate canned tuna (or cereal for that matter). I USED to eat a lot of both, but for some reason, I just don’t do either now.

      /The same goes for milk for me. Used to drink that a lot, now, almost never. Not sure why.

      • Rob

        Container too tough for older fingers to open? : )

        • I don’t have a can opener. I think it got mixed in and tossed along with my Playboys.


      • boB from WA

        More time for playing hockey!

      • Jerry

        I think a lot of Americans don’t drink milk because several generations were tought that milk fat is evil so they grew up on skim milk, which will turn anyone off milk.

    • Barton

      Not a millennial, but I haven’t eaten boxed cereal in years. Yogurt, honey and maybe granola. I wonder if the sales of yogurt have gone up in equal portion to the sales of cereal going down.

    • jon

      I am a millennial…
      I never really ate cereal out of a bowl, even when I was a kid and my mom did the dishes… always just munched on it dry out of the box… and even then it wasn’t a regular fixture in our house… I rarely eat cereal now, and when I do, it’s still more of a (dry) snack than a meal.

      My wife is more of a cereal eater, but she was always big on putting milk on it (how did that start, and why don’t people think this is weird?) and she definitely has been eating less cereal over the past decade…

      Generally I think millennials are more about either prepared foods (either by themselves or some one else) for meals, or going the complete opposite direction and eating things even easier than cereal… soylent or energy bar type things.

      • Jack

        I’m another dry cereal eater. Much better when it is crunchy.

        Guessing the milk part is for calcium but that’s just a guess.

    • John F.

      I’m a millennial and I eat both canned tuna and cereal. As far as I can tell, canned tuna and cereal are some of the easiest things to make. Toss some tuna and olive oil in a bowl with a bit of salt/pepper and maybe some pasta. If I guessed, I would think that canned tuna would be MORE popular with my generation, given the lazy stereotype.

      But then again, I buy higher quality canned tuna.

      • Rob

        Score for the albacore!

    • Jerry

      I’m not a millennial, but I eat a bowl and a half of cereal with milk every weekday morning.

    • Joe

      Millennial here. Do not eat canned tuna (occasionally get a nice tuna filet though), and as for cereal, I eat granola (from the bulk bin, not a box) a few times a week. Otherwise it’s usually oatmeal.

    • wonderpigeon

      I’m a millennial. I don’t trust cereal – why would you eat a bunch of pulverized grains baked into tiny wafers and sold for about 20 times the cost of the ingredients when you could just eat oatmeal?

      I also don’t trust canned tuna, for environmental reasons and because it looks like sludge. I occasionally buy a can of sustainably harvested tuna, but at $3.50 a pop, that’s not something I do very often. It’s good, though.

    • TimothySwenson

      I still have a bowl of cereal once in a great while. But if we are talking a quick breakfast, then this millennial prefers a fried egg with some toast.

    • BWald

      Millennial here. Who can be bothered with cereal when we can have avocado toast for breakfast?

  • jon

    Aren’t tuna cans one of the primary places where the pull and peel lids are used?

    I’ve not bought tuna for… I’ve never bought a can of tuna, because as the above noted, it’s gross, and I’m not big into any seafood.

    And yes I’m from the years that list out as a millenial… But I own literally dozens of can openers (most of them on pocket knives and multitools, but I can open a can with them… which is more than many people can say about non-crank can openers)

    • MrE85

      Not on any major brand I have seen.

    • Barton

      this is news to me. The brand I use still needs a can opener.

    • Kassie

      Yes. And in pouches. Lots of tuna is in pouches and it makes it super easy to open.

    • Debby

      Pull and peel tuna – I’ve only seen them at Costco.

  • Gary F

    If I could only find a marketing textbook I had back in college in the mid 80’s.

    The red handled can opener Swing Away, was featured in the textbook about one of their most effective marketing campaigns. What did every college age lad have at his dorm/frat house/apartment? Well, a can opener and Playboy magazine. Swing Away would advertise in Playboy because they knew every young lad ate a lot of tuna, Spagettios, and chili in a can, and they read Playboy magazine. It was one of their most successful campaigns. Know your customers.

  • Guest

    My father in law loved all seafood except tuna. I hate all seafood except tuna. We both agree a can of tuna is NOT seafood 🙂

  • Rob

    I shy away from any food that brings every cat in the neighborhood running the moment they hear you opening the container.

  • king harvest

    But what do millenials think about pouches? Do they hate pouches too? Because pouches are easy; zip open, scoop already mixed tuna salad onto bread, eat.
    The new ad campaign “So simple a millennial could do it! But won’t.”

  • kevins

    My wife makes a tasty tuna casserole…uses a pouch full. She is a boomer, and hates hand crank can openers. The casserole is great no matter how the animal gets delivered.

    • ARCC Guy


      • kevins

        Sorry for taking so long to get back to you. Like many, my wife sort of has a recipe, but the end result often rests on what is in the fridge or pantry. I’m trying to get her to write down the basics, and I will pass that along. Humm…all of this is making me hungry for some “hot dish”, tuna style!

  • MikeB

    It’s easier to blame millenials than tell Wall St analysts and your CEO that your product has lost its luster.

  • Jerry

    I feel that canned tuna has gotten a lot less appealing recently. I remember it having more texture, while now it is just mushy.

    • Kassie

      Buy the more expensive kind, it is less mushy.

    • Francis Rose

      You prolly eating tuna in oil now. Tuna in water is much less mushy.

  • boB from WA

    //”After all, what generation invented the microwave oven and fast-food drive-throughs?” Technically that would have been the greatest generation. But the boomers definitly took advantage of that.

  • EarthToBobby

    I ate a can or two a day when I was running a lot more and trying to maintain mass. A can is 12 grams of protein, only 50 calories and no carbs, no sugar, and far less of a gut bomb than any protein bar.

    • Francis Rose

      Yeah. You right – on both points. Tuna is fantastic for that reason. I hadn’t considered the protein bar as suspect in my gut bomb scenario. Good point. Fits. Makes sense. Problem solved. -Peace- … thanks

  • jwest8

    Canned or in a pouch, tuna is disgusting. And expensive. I prefer peanut butter.

    • Rob

      Tuna-flavored peanut butter is the best thing EVER!

  • Jeff C.

    Does anyone remember the band In Tua Nua? Maybe if they were still around people would eat more tuna.

    • Rob

      No, but the name derives from an tuath nua, which means “the new tribe” in Irish.

  • Christopher Hahn

    Anyone else notice the so-called “millennial” tweeted the paper copy of the NYT? Nice try, Russian trolls.

    • ProPublica reporter.

      newsrooms get paper copies. Good way to look like you’re busy in a newsroom when you’re really not.

  • theoacme

    No tinned tuna for me anymore (in southern Illinois of my childhood, that was the only tuna available!)…

    …one word now: POKE!

    (the recipe says salmon, but tuna filets work too: )

  • Re: millennial-bashing anything.

    Why aren’t we faulting the /parents/ of millennials for anything? Shouldn’t they have been the ones to teach their children about something like can openers (or reading books or [pick the topic]?