Trident Seafoods said Dec. 12 that it’s looking for potential buyers for four of its shoreside processing plants as part of a restructuring initiative to streamline its Alaska operations and refocus the company’s global commercial strategy.
The company also revealed that it plans to reduce the workforce at its Seattle headquarters by 10%.
The announcement comes as Trident acknowledges the need to adapt to the changing dynamics of the global seafood industry. Trident CEO Joe Bundrant said the restructuring is designed to focus operations and investments on assets to fuel that shift.
This includes plans to seek buyers for Trident’s diverse operations in Kodiak while operating a significantly scaled-back winter season. The Kodiak plants operate nearly year-round and process multiple species, primarily pollock, salmon, Pacific cod and crab.
Trident Senior Vice President of Alaska Operations Jeff Welbourn said that Trident’s Kodiak operations are integral to 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,” he said.
The company said its regional salmon strategy would now refocus operations in Southeast Alaska and Area M, with Trident seeking buyers for its seasonal plants in Ketchikan, Petersburg and False Pass. The operations align better with other operators’ strategies, Welbourn said.
“We are optimistic (that) 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,” he stated.
Trident also announced that the company will retire or seek buyers for the historic South Naknek Diamond NN cannery facility and its support facilities in Chignik, and that Trident is assessing its company-owned vessel strategy.
Company officials said the restructuring would allow Trident to modernize its processing facilities throughout Alaska. In August, Trident delayed a three-year plan to build a new state-of-the-art plant in Akutan, a city on the Aleutian Islands. Construction is expected to resume once the restructure is complete, the company said.
Modernizing and re-tooling remaining Alaska facilities to be more sustainable operations would allow the company to continue supporting as many fleets and communities as possible in Alaska in the long term, Welbourn said.
Trident’s strategy reflects realities facing other U.S. seafood producers that are contending globally with declining demand, excess supply and foreign competition that has driven prices down, squeezed margins and displaced them from markets.
“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,” Bundrant said. “Many of our foreign competitors operate with minimal regulatory costs and oversight, inexpensive infrastructure and exploitive labor practices.”
Bundrant said he remains confident in the Alaska seafood industry and Trident’s 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,” he said.