How Much Tuna is Inside Different Brands of Cans of Tuna Fish?

What's the actual volume of tuna in different brands of canned tuna fish?

How Much Tuna is Inside Different Brands of Cans of Tuna Fish?

After discovering the brothy secret of Walmart's "Great Value" cans of tuna in water, I wanted to know if this was a phenomenon was restricted to Walmart, or if the underfilling sensation had swept through the entire tuna industry.

I went on a tuna can shopping spree. I bought another can of Walmart's tuna, two types of Target tuna, Starkist and Bumblebee, all of them in a 5 ounce can. Walmart's tuna price had come off the sale price and was now selling for 68¢ per can. This was still the least expensive can, by more than a dime, but I'd soon found out if it was actually holding a comparable quantity of tuna.

It wasn't. I opened up the Walmart tuna, drained the liquid and discovered it had less than two ounces of tuna inside. Unbelieveable. This is a crueler trick than a bag of chips 3/5ths full of air, because at least you can hold the bag of chips and estimate the volume by weight.

With a can of tuna, you are blind to the contents until you open the can at home.

Next I tried the Target brand "Market Pantry" Solid White albacore tuna in water. This was the most expensive can of tuna, at $1.12.

As I suspected, the can was mostly tuna.

The liquid was less than 2 ounces.

Which means that the tuna was more than 3. It held 3.33 ounces, in fact. It was so much tuna that I had to swap containers to get it all on the scale.

Don't worry, I zeroed out the scale with each tray. 3.33 ounces is the true drained tuna weight.

Target chunk light was next. This was the second-cheapest can of tuna, at 79¢.

I drained the water. 2.4 ounces.

Which was a hint that it held 2.6 ounces of drained tuna fish.

This turns out to be the lowest price per ounce of actual drained tuna fish, at 30¢ per ounce.

For the Starkist, I bought chunk light tuna in vegetable oil. I thought that tuna packed in oil wouldn't use the "plus broth" cheat to skimp on the tuna.

I was only half right. The cans of tuna in oil still contained broth, but the can was just over one half tuna fish, at 2.55 ounces.

Bumble Bee tuna is named after my favorite Transformer, so I was rooting for its victory.

The Bumble bee had more tuna than most, but was still the most expensive by drained weight. Its 99¢ price delivers 2.78 ounces of tuna. That's 36¢ per ounce.

I'd opened and weighed five cans. It was time for some calculations!

Every can was different. No can had more than 3.3 ounces of tuna after draining, but that's 73% more tuna than the pitiful 1.975 ounce serving from the Walmart can. The Bumblebee was the most expensive tuna, Target's chunk light was the cheapest.

Every brand's can held at least 50% tuna, except for the can packed by the fiscal magicians at Walmart.

Interestingly, once you drain out the water, all of the per-ounce prices turn out to be fairly close together, from just 30¢ per ounce up to 36¢ per ounce ($4.80/lb. - $5.76/lb.)

These values aren't anywhere on the label. They should be. This is vital information. Can you imagine if hot dogs were sold like this? In a solid, opaque container, swimming in an unknown quantity of fluid? That would be crazy, and this tuna situation is exactly that crazy.

Thanks for reading this article! I had fun discovering the hidden truth of these tuna cans, and as a bonus, I'm now ready for tonight's barbeque!

Back to Part One: How Much is Inside Tuna Fish >

Please Read Part Two
How Much is Inside Tuna Fish: Five Tuna Cans Face Off >