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Trident Puts 4 Alaska Plants Up for Sale; Aims to Cut Workforce by 10%

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Seattle, Washington-headquartered Trident Seafoods, a company that has been operating continuously in Alaska for more than 50 years, is pursuing potential buyers for four of its Alaska shoreside plants as part of a comprehensive restructuring initiative. This move puts the company, which is North America’s largest vertically integrated seafood harvester and processor, on a path toward streamlining its Alaska operations and refocusing global commercial strategy.

The restructuring is designed to focus operations and investments on assets that fuel the company’s shift. This includes plans to sell its diverse operations in Kodiak, while operating a significantly scaled-back winter season. The Kodiak facilities are active nearly year-round and support multiple species, primarily pollock, salmon, Pacific cod and crab.

“Bold action today is necessary to deliver fair value to fleet, communities, and all stakeholders into the future,” said CEO Joe Bundrant.

“Our Kodiak operations are integral to the Gulf of Alaska fisheries,” said Jeff Welbourn, senior vice president of Alaska operations. “They are highly efficient, multi species 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 it seeks buyers for its seasonal plants in Ketchikan, Petersburg and False Pass. “These are all well maintained operations that align better with other operators’ strategies,” added Welbourn. “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 and optimizing its head office support functions, resulting in a 10% reduction in personnel.

The restructuring effort enables the company to execute its strategic drive to modernize processing plants throughout Alaska, according to a statement posted at Trident’s website on December 12. In August, the company announced delay of a three-year plan to build a new, state-of-the-art plant in Unalaska’s Dutch Harbor to replace an aging facility 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,” said Welbourn. “This will allow us to continue supporting as many fleets and communities as possible across Alaska for the long term.”

Trident’s 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 American producers from markets that they developed over decades.

“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.”

In this global business environment, Trident is betting that it can remain competitive by attracting customers who value the sustainability, quality and integrity of wild Alaska seafood – while also aggressively reducing costs and improving productivity.

“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,” added 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.”

With operations in six countries, the privately-held company serves customers in over 50 national markets around the globe. It currently employs approximately 9,000 people worldwide and partners with over 5,400 independent fishermen and crew members. Trident harvests and processes virtually every commercial species of salmon, whitefish and crab in the North Pacific and Alaskan waters. The supply chain also includes cultured and wild species from a network of sources worldwide.