Trident Seafoods hangs 'for sale' sign at four Alaska plants

Layoffs at its headquarters, the retirement of historical assets in Alaska, and the reassessment of its vessel ownership strategy are other measures mentioned by Trident Seafoods for what the company has defined as "a comprehensive restructuring initiative."
Trident Seafoods has announced a restructuring that, among other measures, involves selling part of its processing plants in Alaska and layoffs at its headquarters.
Trident Seafoods has announced a restructuring that, among other measures, involves selling part of its processing plants in Alaska and layoffs at its headquarters.Trident Seafoods.

"Bold action today is necessary to deliver fair value to fleet, communities, and all stakeholders into the future." This is how Joe Bundrant, CEO of Trident Seafoods, justified the decision to seek potential buyers for four of its Alaskan coastal plants as part of a restructuring "designed to focus operations and investments on assets that fuel the company’s shift." The company said the move will put it on the path to streamlining its Alaska operations and refocusing its global business strategy.

Restructuring beyond Alaska

The company's diverse operations in Kodiak, Alaska, are among those affected by the sale plans. While operating a significantly scaled-back winter season, the Kodiak plants work nearly year-round and support multiple species, primarily pollock, salmon, Pacific cod, and crab. "Our Kodiak operations are integral to the Gulf of Alaska fisheries. They are highly efficient, multispecies plants, and we are working diligently to find a new owner to support the fleet and the Kodiak community," Jeff Welbourn, Senior Vice President of Alaska Operations at Trident Seafoods said, hanging the 'for sale' sign.

Trident also announced that its regional salmon strategy would refocus operations in Southeast Alaska and Area M, so the other three affected plants, all of which are seasonal, are located in Ketchikan, Petersburg, and False Pass. "These are all well-maintained operations that align better with other operators’ strategies," Welbourn continued. "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 complete the retrenchment strategy in Alaska, Trident is also retiring or seeking buyers for other assets, such as the historic South Naknek Diamond NN cannery facilities and support facilities at Chignik. It is also evaluating its overall strategy for owned vessels. However, the restructuring is not limited to Alaska.

The company said that it is also rationalizing and optimizing the support functions of its headquarters, which translates into a 10% reduction in its workforce. To these confirmed layoffs could be added those of some of the workers affected by the sale of the plants, which, according to data provided by the company on its website, would amount to more than 1,000.

A bid to remain competitive

According to Trident Seafoods' announcement, this "restructuring effort" will allow them to execute their strategic push to modernize their processing plants throughout Alaska. "We are modernizing and re-tooling the remaining Alaska plants to be more efficient, effective, and sustainable operations," Welbourn explained. "This will allow us to continue supporting as many fleets and communities as possible across Alaska for the long term." The company also mentions that, once the restructuring is completed, it is "likely" to resume construction of its new processing plant in Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, to replace the old Akutan plant, which was mothballed last August.

The company remarked that its strategy reflects "the realities facing U.S. seafood producers in global markets." In many species, they say, the combination of declining demand, oversupply, and foreign competition has driven prices down, reducing margins and displacing U.S. producers from markets they had developed for decades. Despite this, Trident Seafoods says its choice is to bid on remaining competitive by attracting customers who value the sustainability, quality, and integrity of wild Alaskan seafood, while aggressively reducing costs and improving productivity.

"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 CEO Joe 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," he continued. "These are significant changes, and we are focused on treating our impacted employees and communities with the respect and compassion they deserve. 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."

About Trident Seafoods

Trident Seafoods has been operating continuously in Alaska for more than 50 years, and it is the largest vertically integrated seafood harvesting and processing company in North America. With global operations in 6 countries, it serves customers in over 50 countries with seafood harvested and processed including virtually every commercial species of salmon, whitefish, and crab harvested in the North Pacific and Alaska, although its global supply chain also includes cultured and wild species from a network of trusted sources worldwide.

Headquartered in Seattle, Washington (USA), Trident is a privately held, 100 percent USA-owned company that employs approximately 9,000 people worldwide each year and partners with over 5,400 independent fishermen and crewmembers.

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