Trident nears final sale of three AK processing plants

Sales will position Trident to focus on modernizing and retooling remaining AK processing plants in Akutan, Cordova, Sand Point, St. Paul and Wrangell, with support centers in Anchorage and Dutch Harbor. 

by | March 11, 2024

Filed Under Markets | Processors

Negotiations in final stages with buyers at Petersburg, Ketchikan and False Pass

Trident Seafoods plant at Petersburg, AK

By Peggy Parker/SeafoodNews.com
March 11, 2024

Last December Trident Seafoods announced a strategic shift in their Alaska operations that put seasonal plants in Ketchikan, Petersburg, False Pass and their year-round shoreside plant in Kodiak up for sale. Last Friday the company announced that negotiations with buyers for processing plants in the first three communities are in the final stages, with multiple parties interested in the more extensive facility in Kodiak. 

Other properties the company sought buyers for in the shifting strategy were the historic South Naknek Diamond NN cannery facility in Bristol Bay and support facilities in Chignik. 

Trident’s efforts to sell the active plants have been underpinned by a desire to secure buyers who share the company’s values. 

“We have been intentional about finding buyers who will take great care of the fleet and employees and who will integrate themselves into the communities,” said CEO Joe Bundrant, son of Trident’s founder Chuck Bundrant.

Information has been sparse since the December 12, 2023 announcement, as interested parties entering negotiations are bound by non-disclosure agreements. 

“We know this is an unsettling time, but the company has not been standing still,” said Jeff Welbourn, Senior Vice President of Alaska Operations. “We’re moving as quickly as possible to minimize the impacts on the fleet, our employees, and the communities.”

Welbourn said negotiations for the processing facilities in False Pass, Petersburg, and Ketchikan have been conducted knowing that salmon season is only a few months away.

Trident plant at Ketchikan

“These are relatively simple, straightforward transactions, and we’re simplifying the deals to facilitate closing as quickly as possible,” said Welbourn. “We are keenly aware of the upcoming salmon season, and we are confident that the buyers, with Trident’s support, will be able to communicate with the fleet, employees, and tenders in the coming weeks.”

Trident is speaking with multiple interested buyers for its fourth plant in Kodiak. As the largest and most complex plant, with year-round operations supporting multiple species, the complexity of the operations makes this a lengthier due diligence process.

Trident plant at Kodiak

“Even if we don’t close a deal by this summer, Trident will still provide a market for salmon season in Kodiak,” said Welbourn. “This means that our employees and fleet are secure, and we will share a tender strategy soon. ”Tenders are larger vessels that receive the catch from the fleet and deliver it to shoreside plants, often delivering fuel, parts, and groceries to fishermen in remote areas.

“Trident is committed to Alaska for the long term and finding the best solutions for these plants is important. We care deeply about the fishermen and communities. Their success is our success,” said Bundrant. “Consolidating our operations allows us to focus reinvestments and ensure we’re able to positively contribute to the Alaska seafood sector for many years to come.”

Trident plant at False Pass

The sale of assets will position the company to focus investments on modernizing and retooling its remaining processing plants throughout Alaska. Those include plants in Akutan, Cordova, Sand Point, St. Paul, and Wrangell, with support centers in Anchorage and Dutch Harbor. 

Trident said the restructuring, which included a reduction of their Seattle headquarters workforce of 10%, was a reflection of “realities facing U.S. seafood producers in global markets … a combination of declining demand, excess supply, and foreign competition [that] has driven prices down, squeezed margins, and displaced U.S. 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,” Bundrant explained late last year. “Many of our foreign competitors operate with minimal regulatory costs and oversight, inexpensive infrastructure, and exploitive labor practices.”

Trident intends to 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,” said Bundrant. “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,” he added.

Peggy Parker

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About Laine

Laine Welch has covered the Alaska fish beat for print and radio since 1988. She also has worked “behind the counter” at retail and wholesale seafood companies in Kodiak and on Cape Cod.

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