In a sweeping company overhaul, Trident Seafoods is divesting four out of its 12 processing plants located in Alaska. This move will also result in employee layoffs across the company.
The four plants slated for sale are situated in Kodiak, Ketchikan, Petersburg, and False Pass.
Trident Seafoods’ CEO, Joe Bundrant, emphasized the need for decisive action, stating that the steps today to restructure are essential to ensure equitable returns for the fishing fleet, communities, and stakeholders.
While actively seeking potential buyers for the four plants, Trident Seafoods is planning to continue to operate its Kodiak facility on a considerably reduced scale during the upcoming winter season. This restructuring aims to secure the company’s future while adapting to evolving industry dynamics.
“Our Kodiak operations are integral to the Gulf of Alaska fisheries,” said Jeff Welbourn, Senior Vice President of Alaska Operations at Trident Seafoods. “They are highly efficient, multispecies plants, and we are working diligently to find a new owner to support the fleet and the Kodiak community.”
Trident also announced that its regional salmon strategy would refocus operations in Southeast Alaska and Area M.
As the company seeks buyers for its seasonal plants in Ketchikan, Petersburg, and False Pass, it said in a statement, “These are all well-maintained operations that align better with other operators’ strategies. We are optimistic the combination of new ownership and our continued service to the fleet through our other locations will mean little to no disruption for regional salmon fleets.”
To round out the Alaska operations strategy, Trident is retiring or seeking buyers for other assets, such as the historic South Naknek Diamond NN cannery facility and the support facilities in Chignik. The company is also assessing its overall company-owned vessel strategy.
The restructuring effort is not confined to Alaska alone. Trident is also streamlining its head office support functions, resulting in a 10% reduction in workers.
The restructuring effort enables Trident to execute its strategic drive to modernize its processing plants throughout Alaska. In August, the company announced a delay to the three-year plan to build a new, state-of-the-art processing plant in Unalaska’s Dutch Harbor to replace an aging plant in Akutan, Alaska. Construction is likely to resume once the restructuring activities are complete.
“We are modernizing and re-tooling the remaining Alaska plants to be more efficient, effective, and sustainable operations,” the company said. “This will allow us to continue supporting as many fleets and communities as possible across Alaska for the long term.”
The company is also looking at whether it should keep its fleet of fishing vessels.
Trident’s strategy reflects the realities facing U.S. seafood producers in global markets. Across many species, the combination of declining demand, excess supply, and foreign competition has driven prices down, squeezed margins, and displaced U.S. producers from markets that they developed over decades, the company said.
“We are competing against producers in other countries that do not share our commitment to or investments in environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and product quality,” said Bundrant. “Many of our foreign competitors operate with minimal regulatory costs and oversight, inexpensive infrastructure, and exploitive labor practices.”
Overall, I remain confident in the Alaska seafood industry and our role in it. These are significant changes, and we are focused on treating our impacted employees and communities with the respect and compassion they deserve,” said Bundrant. “Embracing these changes and operating a more streamlined company will allow us to reinvest in the communities, people, processes, and assets that enable us to continue our mission of responsibly sharing wild Alaska seafood with the world.”
Trident is a prominent player in the US seafood industry and has plants across Europe and Asia, including China. The list of the Alaska plants are at this company link.