The history of John West begins with the vision of one man, whose pioneering innovations and passion for fish set the foundations for what we believe and do today. At John West, we aim to keep true to that pioneering spirit. From creating new ways to keep fish tasting its best to improving the way we source our fish, John West is dedicated to bringing you uncompromised quality.
Like Mary Queen of Scots before him, John West was born in the ancient town of Linlithgow.
Having cut his teeth in the local fishing trade, John decided to broaden his horizons and set sail for Oregon USA. He was a man from a small town, with a big vision - he wanted to explore the seas of the world, and use his fishing expertise to bring back the very best wild fish for people to enjoy.
He helped pioneer a new way of bringing the best quality wild fish to people's tables through the canning of fish. A small town on the Columbia River in Oregon was suddenly at the heart of an exciting new technology that would change the way the world consumed fish forever. This little town later became known as Westport, in honour of John West himself.
John West invested in his own fleet of fishing boats and soon became known as Captain John West. He believed that the best way to get hold of the best fish was to look after the fishing himself.
John West's dedication to catching the best quality fish was recognised by the Oregon State Agricultural Society who awarded him with the Gold Medal for his canned salmon. This award vindicated John's hard work and his unwavering commitment to quality in those early years. This quality standard still runs through the veins of John West, guiding our decisions even today.
Word of John West's high quality, canned salmon, soon spread far and wide - everybody, it seemed, wanted a slice of John West. So, in 1882 John decided he needed a bigger boat. And he got one. An 118ft propeller-driven steamer was launched. Not content to have only a small town named after him, the boat was also christened 'The John West'.
A watershed year for canned fish. For the very first time, canned tuna hit the shelves. This exotic new fish would soon become the ultimate must-have in every family kitchen.
From the early days of Gold Medals and 118ft steamers, John West had always understood the value of good publicity and making a headline. The explosion of mass media through TV in the '50s was tailor-made for the brand, enabling it to become a real household name. In 1958 the first TV ad was launched for salmon, triggering a 50 year journey of famous advertising.
In order to underline John West's continued commitment to quality, a new advertising line was born - 'It's the fish that John West reject, that makes John West the Best'. The line was to sign-off the John West brand for decades to come, cementing its position as the quality canned fish brand in the UK.
Another innovation which we now take for granted - John West launches tuna in brine.
By the mid '80s, the food revolution was just about to hit Britain - a once conservative, 'meat and two veg' nation was opening-up and embracing the cuisine from around the world. John West played its part by serving the nation its beloved tuna in a variety of new sauces and salads for the very first time.
A landmark year. On January 11th, the Earth Island Institute assigned the 'Dolphin Safe' symbol to John West. This symbol is still displayed with pride.Find out more
The famous John West 'bear fight' TV commercial was launched, quickly becoming the most forwarded ad of the pre- YouTube era. This award-winning advert has been viewed over 300 million times.
Another world-first as John West brings No Drain Tuna to the nation - the same succulent tuna, but without the mess. Can you believe that nobody had thought of that before? The simple ideas are always the best.
The world-firsts continue with the launch of Steam Cooked Mackerel, and then Grilled Sardines. The idea once again was simple - beautifully cooked fish, available in a can, and ready-to-eat.
As a worldwide first, John West decided to give customers the opportunity to trace their tuna back to not just the ocean, but to the exact vessel that made the catch. This ‘Discover the story behind every can’ campaign was launched with two very funny 30 second TV commercials. Consumers are then invited to type the code from their own can into john-west.co.uk to discover where it came from.
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