Agrosuper Founder Gonzalo Vial Vial dies at 88, UPSIDE Foods announces leadership changes

To keep up to date with the latest personnel changes across the seafood industry, SeafoodSource is compiling a regular round-up of hiring announcements and other personnel-related shifts worldwide. If you have an announcement, please send it to [email protected].

-Gonzalo Vial Vial (pictured), the founder of Chilean food supplier Agrosuper, has died at 88. 

Vial founded the company as an egg production business in 1955, In 2019, Agrosuper purchased AquaChile, a major Chilean seafood producer. 

“I acted motivated by my intuition. I didn't have money ... daring alone was not enough, but you had to dedicate a lot of effort, many hours to work and, most importantly, do it with pleasure," Vial previously told La Tercera.

AgroSuper acquired a 67 percent share in AquaChile in August 2018 for USD 850 million (EUR 736.4 million), which also gave it control of AquaChile subsidiaries Los Fiordos, Friosur, and Salmones Magallanes. In 2019, AgroSuper decided to move all its salmon farming operations under its AquaChile brand, integrating all the acquisitions into the second-largest farmed salmon company in the world, with around 350 farming concessions in four regions of Chile and total production of more than 200,000 metric tons (whole fish equivalent).

“He always focused on delivering the highest quality food to all Chilean families with the support of his collaborators, so many entrepreneurs and suppliers who grew together with,” Agrosuper said on LinkedIn. “Hardworking, visionary and attached to the traditions of the Chilean countryside, he leaves us an important legacy of commitment to the country, and especially to the regions, leadership, innovation and vision of the future.”

- Coral Springs, Florida U.S.A.-based frozen seafood company Sea Delight announced Steve Fisher, its sustainability director, has died. Fisher had been with Sea Delight 2007, and played a pivotal role in developmenting and implemeting sustainable practices at the company. 

“Steve was not only a dedicated professional but also a beloved member of our Sea Delight family. His passion for our seafood industry and sustainability inspired those around him, and he leaves behind a lasting legacy that will continue to shape our environmental initiatives for years to come,” SeaDelight said in a release. 

- Berkeley, California U.S.A.-based cell-cultivated meat company UPSIDE Foods appointed Jeremy Hux as its CFO and Sheetal Shah as its chief supply chain and manufacturing officer. 

Shah has been with the company since 2021 and previously served as senior vice president of supply chain and manufacturing, according to his LinkedIn.

"I'm extremely proud of what our team at UPSIDE has accomplished already," Shah said. "We're focused now on scalability, expanding our technology platform, and building a world class supply chain and manufacturing footprint that will deliver against our production, cost, and impact targets, setting the stage for our success and allowing us to realize the positive impact we aspire to make."

Hux previously served as CFO for Manus Bio, and has a background in financial operations. 

"I've dedicated my career to sustainability and clean tech, driven by the belief that we all have a responsibility to address global challenges," Hux said. "I'm excited to join UPSIDE at this pivotal point of scaling commercial operations and look forward to helping address the critical challenge of reducing the environmental impact of our food supply and sustainably feeding a growing global population with finite resources."

- Schenectady, New York U.S.A.-based grocery chain Northeast Grocery (NGI)  announced Frank Curci has retired as CEO, and that NGI COO John Persons will be promoted to serve as Curci's replacement.

NGI operates the Price Chopper, Market 32, and Tops grocery store chains, with a combined footprint of nearly 300 stores.

“The 43 years I have spent in this business have been challenging and rewarding beyond measure and, without a doubt, the recent years spent planning and then bringing NGI to life have been some of the most gratifying. I’m delighted that John has been chosen to succeed me. He has been instrumental in our merger success to date, providing the necessary leadership over these past few years to position NGI for success. While John’s strategic mindset is poised to lead our multifaceted business day to day, he also possesses great vision for our path forward,” Curci said in a release. 

Persons, who has 40 years of food retail experience, has been the COO of NGI COO since 2023.

“I am thrilled to lead NGI forward in collaboration with the talented teammates and associates at Northeast Shared Services, Price Chopper/Market 32, and Tops who are dedicated to nourishing the communities we serve,” Persons said. “On behalf of all 30,000 of us, I’d like to express gratitude to Frank Curci for his leadership and mentorship over the years and reiterate my commitment to build on the momentum and success that he has fostered.”

- Portsmouth, New Hampshire U.S.A-based Global Seafood Alliance has appointed James Wright as its program director for the Responsible Seafood Summit (formerly GOAL), set to take place in St. Andrews, Scotland, in September 2024.

My goal is to make the agenda as much of a draw as the stunning location surely will be (even if you are not a golfer like me). I promise to approach the agenda as I would any feature story that I write or assign, which is with thoughtfulness, objectivity, and an eye on solutions,"Wright wrote in the latest GSA Editor’s Note. "If you have thoughts about this year's program and what should be on it, don't waste a moment and get in touch with me soon because the wheels are in motion."

The conference takes place each year and hosts hundreds of attendees at a series of events centered on the seafood industry. The 2023 conference, running from 3 to 5 October, was moved from Tokyo, Japan to Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. due to pandemic-associated travel restrictions.

The multi-day event in 2024 will be co-hosted by Seafood Scotland, an organization that works to promote Scottish seafood in the global market.

- Oban, Scotland-based seaweed startup OCEANIUM appointed Benjamin Armenjon as managing director. Before joining OCEANIUM, Armenjon was the chief sales and development officer at Ynsect, according to OCEANIUM. 

“I am really delighted to be joining OCEANIUM at this exciting stage of its growth. The company has already made significant progress on developing its ingredients and proving its biorefinery technology, and I am looking forward to being part of this skilled, passionate team to scale up and deliver real change,” Armenjon said. 

In the new role, Armenjon will be responsible for managing research, development, and commercialization, the company said.

“The entire OCEANIUM team extends a warm welcome to Benjamin Armenjon as our new Managing Director. Benjamin has already been on the journey from start-up to scale-up to industry leader and can bring this invaluable experience to OCEANIUM. This appointment marks a pivotal moment for OCEANIUM, and we are excited about the transformative impact that Benjamin will bring to the team, with a focus on scaling our proprietary seaweed biorefinery technology and launching OCEANIUM’s next-gen seaweed products to market,” OCEANIUM CEO and Co-Founder Karen Scofield Seal said. 

Photo courtesy of Agrosuper 


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