Two of Alaska’s oldest and largest seafood producers, Ocean Beauty Seafoods LLC and Icicle Seafoods, Inc., announced on May 29 that they are merging their wild salmon and Gulf of Alaska groundfish operations. The new company will be named OBI Seafoods LLC.
“The Alaska salmon business is experiencing significant market and resource fluctuations. In order to flourish in this rapidly changing environment, we need to develop flexible and efficient business models and form innovative partnerships,” said Mark Palmer, president and chief executive officer of Ocean Beauty Seafoods, who will head the newly entity. “The merger will enable more focus on selling seafood products in the global marketplace by leveraging both strong sales teams. Increased sales will bring additional investment to support growth and jobs.”
The agreement will allow the new partnership to make strategic investments to enhance its ability to better compete in the world seafood market. Initial plans include modernizing processing facilities and combining marketing and value-added product expertise. The changes are designed to grow the value of the Alaska seafood resource in a way that benefits the company’s customers, employees and fisherman partners.
Included in the merger are all five Icicle shoreside plants and all five Ocean Beauty shoreside facilities in Alaska. Ocean Beauty Seafoods’ smoked salmon and distribution operations will remain under its current ownership and will operate under the name OBS Smoked & Distribution, LLC. The Ocean Beauty and Icicle Seafoods Gulf of Alaska groundfish enterprises and all salmon operations will conduct business under the OBI banner.
Icicle Seafoods’ processing operations on the P/V Gordon Jensen and the permanently moored Northern Victor craft in Dutch Harbor are not included in the deal. These plants will continue to operate in the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands and Western Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries, and will do business under the Icicle Seafoods, Inc. flag.
“The two companies’ cultures will blend well,” Palmer said. “We will be combining two very talented workforces that are highly motivated to compete successfully in today’s challenging market. This merger also presents the best opportunity for the new company to optimize our branded value-added seafood and make strategic long-term investments.”
John Woodruff, chief operating officer of Icicle Seafoods, will become executive vice president of Alaska operations for the new company. A respected Alaska fishing industry leader, he has built deep relationships across the state.
“Partnerships can provide employees with additional career growth opportunities in a wider variety of positions and locations,” said Woodruff. “As a unified team, we are confident we can make improvements to benefit employees, fishermen, customers and vendors. To be more competitive globally, operational efficiencies in processing must be realized, along with continuing strong fleet relationships and placing an added focus on sales, marketing and distribution.”
Founded in 1910, Ocean Beauty Seafoods is owned by the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation and a group of individuals with experience in the seafood industry. Founded in 1965, Icicle Seafoods has since 2016 been a division of the Cooke family of companies, a privately-owned sustainable seafood company based in New Brunswick, Canada. Upon close of the merger transaction on June 1, in line with the 2020 wild Alaska salmon season, Icicle Seafoods and Ocean Beauty Seafoods will each own a 50% stake in the new company.