Case | HBS Case Collection | April 1994 (Revised January 1995)

StarKist (A)

by Richard H.K. Vietor and Forest L. Reinhardt


Set in April 1990, this case focuses on H.J. Heinz and its subsidiary, StarKist, the largest producer of canned tuna in the United States. During the 1980s, the public became increasingly concerned about tuna fishing practices that killed dolphins. StarKist was the target of a consumer boycott initiated by the environmental community. Worried that bad publicity from the boycott would threaten the StarKist brand name, as well as Heinz's other branded products, senior management at Heinz decided that StarKist would become the first tuna processor to no longer purchase tuna caught by methods that killed dolphins. In making the decision, Heinz executives were not sure how StarKist's two major competitors would react, or how the decision would impact the procurement of raw tuna, StarKist's single largest expense item. Discusses the harvesting (fishing) and processing (canning) sector of the tuna industry. Also discusses the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and U.S. trade sanctions against Mexico and other countries.

Keywords: Business Subsidiaries; Decision Choices and Conditions; Laws and Statutes; Management Teams; Brands and Branding; Environmental Sustainability; Competition; Mexico; United States;


Vietor, Richard H.K., and Forest L. Reinhardt. "StarKist (A)." Harvard Business School Case 794-128, April 1994. (Revised January 1995.)