US clam supplier Sea Watch celebrates milestone anniversary with new product launch

Published on
March 7, 2018

Major Maryland-based clam supplier Sea Watch International is turning 40 years old in March 2018, a milestone for the company, which got its start as a cannery operation in Milford, Delaware in 1978.

Over its 40 years in business, Sea Watch has undergone numerous acquisitions and significant growth. What started out as a small operation, buying clams from independent clammers and shucking them at a small shucking house in Oyster, Virginia, has grown into one of the largest clam processing businesses in the world.

Since adding a fry line to its operations in 1980, Sea Watch experienced a lot of growth within the value-added seafood product sector, it said, broadening its portfolio to include stuffed clams, breaded soft shell clams, crab cakes and a variety of other breaded seafood products. 

Japanese firm Nicheri bought Sea Watch from Rymer Meats in 1986, then sold the company to Truex Enterprises Inc. in 1999, a process Sea Watch said "enhanced and informed the offerings provided by the company." The merger with Truex in particular facilitated Sea Watch’s rise within the Atlantic surfclam and ocean quahog markets.

“The union between Sea Watch and Truex Enterprises brought together the largest harvest capacity and the largest processor of Atlantic surfclams and ocean quahogs,” the company said. “This synergy had existed for many years prior as Truex Enterprises supplied the vast majority of live shell-stock to Sea Watch.  Having this combined power under one team has presented many opportunities for Sea Watch and its customer base. Over the past 19 years, Sea Watch has grown fivefold through acquisitions and product line expansion.”

Ownership of Sea Watch remains intact since 1999, with Barney Truex, Martin Truex Sr., Jim Meyers, and Bob Brennan still at the helm today. Additional partnerships have served to fortify Sea Watch, such as its 2016 investment in Look's Gourmet Food Company, Inc., via Bar Harbor Foods, in Whiting, Maine.

“Bar Harbor has a strong national presence in shelf stable seafood products including chowders, clams, soups, and bisques,” Sea Watch said of its partner business. 

New product offerings continue to emerge in steady streams from Sea Watch’s innovative development team. The company introduced three new flavors to its Oven Ready Clam Strips line last month, including Honey and Sriracha, Sea Salt and Black Cracked Pepper and Beer Battered.

“The Honey and Sriracha Clam Strips marries the best of sweet and heat, they are well balanced and oven crispy," the company said. "Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper seasoning gives these clam strips a savory flavor. Our Beer Battered Clam Strips are coated in a light lager beer batter with a mild flavor of malt and hops."

All the new strip products are packed in nine-ounce retail boxes, and are currently available through retailers throughout the Northeast U.S. The clam strips possess a multi-generational appeal, Sea Watch said.

“Clam strips have been a favorite of kids and adults alike since the days of the iconic orange roofed HoJo’s [Howard Johnsons]. It used to be the only way to thoroughly enjoy the tender sweet taste was to throw them in the fryer. Of course, you could bake them in the oven, but they never had that awesome combination of tender and crispy that you get from the old deep fryer. Now you can get that tender, crispy crunch from the oven in four flavors,” the company said. 

Sustainability remains at the heart of what Sea Watch does, the company said, with the Atlantic surfclam and ocean quahog fisheries from which it sources being federally managed since 1977 under the authorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Moreover, all Sea Watch and Bar Harbor plants carry the Marine Stewardship Council chain of custody certification. In addition, Sea Watch operates 37 technologically advanced vessels to harvest clams, which are processed in three state-of-the art processing plants in Maryland, Delaware, and Massachusetts.

The company will be exhibiting at the upcoming Seafood Expo North America event in Boston, Massachusetts from 11 to 13 March at booth #423. It will showcase the latest additions to its Oven Ready Clam Strips line, and be celebrating its 40-year anniversary on the show floor. 

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