Trans-Ocean to close Oregon surimi plant

Trans-Ocean Products of Bellingham, Wash., announced Wednesday that it will close its 56,000-square-foot surimi processing plant in Salem, Ore., by July 1. The company will consolidate all of its surimi-processing assets at its Bellingham facility.

Trans-Ocean President Rick Dutton said in a press release yesterday that the closure’s purpose is to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

“Consolidating production at one plant will streamline our operations and position Trans-Ocean for continued growth in the years ahead,” Dutton said. “We will be a stronger and more efficient company prepared to take advantage of the growth opportunities we see in the refrigerated seafood category.”

Trans-Ocean says its Crab Classic brand of surimi products holds a 33 percent market share of the retail surimi seafood category.

According to a report in the Statesman Journal in Salem, the company will lay off 71 employees, but provide retention bonuses to encourage workers to remain until the plant’s closure. Managers and administrative staff have been offered the opportunity to transfer to Bellingham.

Trans-Ocean is no stranger to consolidation. Its parent company is Maruha Nichiro Holdings of Japan, the world’s largest seafood company, with more than $8 billion in annual sales. In October, Maruha Group and Nichiro Corp. completed a merger, bringing some of North America’s largest seafood suppliers together, including Westward Seafoods, Supreme Alaska Seafoods, Alyeska Seafoods, Prime Pacific Seafoods, Peter Pan Seafoods and Golden Alaska Seafoods, all of Seattle; Orca Bay Seafoods of Renton, Wash.; and Trans-Ocean Products.

The U.S. surimi industry must deal with soaring pollock prices, which will likely rise due to drastic cuts in the 2008 Alaska pollock quota. In December, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to cut the Bering Sea pollock quota by 28 percent, to 1 million metric tons.


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