Riverence acquires Clear Springs Foods, forming trout powerhouse
Riverence Holdings LLC’s acquired Clear Springs on 1 February, marking the formation of a powerhouse in the U.S. trout sector.
Filer, Idaho, U.S.A.-based Riverence, which also owns Riverence Brood in Washington state and Riverence Farms in Idaho, is now the largest land-based trout producer in the Americas, the supplier said in a press release. Together with Clear Springs Foods, Riverence controls the supply chain from its broodstock to delivery to distributors.
“We intend to move onward and upward while supporting our existing brands, team members, and the markets we serve,” Riverence CEO Rob Young told SeafoodSource. “In this place, we have found a community of like-minded people as foundational to our operations as the ground from which the valley’s thousand springs flow. Yesterday we were neighbors, today we are family.”
Riverence’s portfolio now includes 14 farms with the capacity to produce more than 15,000 metric tons annually, four brood stations, two processing facilities, a value-added processing facility, a waste recovery plant, and a feed mill. All of Riverence’s operations are Best Aquaculture Practices-certified or are pursuing BAP certification.
"Trout farming began in Idaho a century ago. We are privileged to share that rich history, and look forward to writing the next chapters together,” Young said.
Riverence is backed by television producer David E. Kelley, who said in October 2019 the company is not yet in the black but is aiming for profits with the model of growing “fully traceable, gourmet quality steelhead trout.”
Idaho’s Magic Valley, in the south-central part of the state, will continue to be the base of operations for both Riverence and Clear Springs Foods and the two suppliers intend to maintain their existing brands and employees. Riverence said. Together, the companies employ more than 450 people.
“We’re starting to reimagine the potential of the U.S. trout industry,” said Clear Springs Foods CEO Jeff Jermunson said. “We are honored to begin the next chapter of our company’s long history as part of the Riverence family.”
Clear Springs’ 54 years of experience is “something [we] very much respect,” Riverence Director of Communications Gabe Watkins told SeafoodSource.
“They’ve endured the test of time, and have led the way for land-based trout production for decades, and I believe this is a watershed moment for American aquaculture,” Watkins said. “By combining the resources and accomplishments of these companies, along with the tenure of all team members, it’s clear that we’re about to enter a new era for local, sustainably-raised seafood.”
There are no plans for downsizing staff or operations, according to Watkins.
“We are focused on integrating our teams in the healthiest way we possibly can, while supporting our existing brands and the markets we serve,” Watkins said. “The deal is extremely new, and while we have clear goals for improvements, we have not yet finalized plans. However, I can assure you that we expect to find great benefits almost immediately, in most every area of the business.”
Along with full “egg to plate” control of the supply chain, Riverence gains increased production, processing, and distribution capacity, Watkins said.
“Clear Springs has a very mature trucking fleet and distribution program with national market reach, which means both Clear Springs and Riverence products will have greater nationwide availability, and precise, reliable cold-chain control,” Watkins said. “We also have a long list of newfound opportunities and improvements available to us, from genetics, to supply reliability, and much more.”
Both producers supply “a variety of customers within both retail and food service,” and are not intending to change the way they serve each of those sectors, beyond natural earned growth, Watkins said.
“We dedicate an enormous amount of energy to ensuring product quality and environmental efficiency. In turn, we must dedicate just as much energy into telling each brand’s true story and value that we’ve invested behind the scenes,” Watkins said.
Riverence’s mission is to decrease pressure on wild fish by providing an alternative source of premium seafood, the producer said. Riverence’s trout, the official trout of the James Beard House, is rated “Best Choice” by Seafood Watch and is recommended by FishWise and Ocean Wise.
Photo courtesy of Riverence (Clear Springs aerial photo)