Trident Seafoods in troubled waters

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SEATTLE — Seafood processor Trident Seafoods is restructuring its business. As part of the plan, the company is divesting some of its processing plants in Alaska and laying off 10% of the employees at its head office.

Alaskan processing plants to be sold are seasonal operations in Ketchikan, Petersburg and False Pass as well as nearly year-around operations in Kodiak, South Naknek and Chignik. The 10% headcount reduction will focus on employees providing support functions at the company’s head office.

“Bold action today is necessary to deliver fair value to fleet, communities, and all stakeholders into the future,” said Joe Bundrant, chief executive officer of Trident Seafoods.

The restructuring effort enables Trident to execute its strategic plan to modernize its processing plants throughout Alaska, according to the company. In August, Trident announced the delay of a three-year plan to build a new 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, the company said.

“We are modernizing and re-tooling the remaining Alaska plants to be more efficient, effective, and sustainable operations,” said Jeff Welbourn, senior vice president of Alaska operations. “This will allow us to continue supporting as many fleets and communities as possible across Alaska for the long term.”

The company said its strategy reflects the realities facing US 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 US producers from markets that they developed over decades, according to Trident.

“Overall, I remain confident in the Alaska seafood industry and our role in it,” Mr. Bundrant said. “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.”

Trident markets products to both retail and foodservice. Retail brands marketed by the company include Trident Seafoods, Louis Kemp, Alaska Naturals, Pure Catch and Pure Alaska Omega.

The company employs approximately 9,000 and is privately owned.

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