Filer, Idaho, U.S.A.-based Riverence Holdings LLC, which acquired fellow farmed trout producer Clear Springs Foods in February, laid off 97 tenured employees at Clear Springs Foods – around 35 percent of its staff – earlier this month, KMVT 11 reported. Sixty-two Riverence Farms employees and three Riverence Holdings employees were also laid off.
The layoffs were the result of a steep drop in foodservice sales due to the COVID-19 crisis, a representative told SeafoodSource.
Riverence Holdings CEO Rob Young has reduced his salary to zero, the Riverence representative said, and KMVT noted that all remaining salaried employees had 25 percent pay cuts.
“Unfortunately, we had to make some very difficult decisions in order to withstand these times of reduced sales,” the representative said. “Foodservice was a large portion of our business, which obviously took a deep hit, while retail remains strong. We had no choice but to match the new economics to a feasible workforce size until we make it through.”
Having a reduced staff size also reduces the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak, the representative said, noting that protein processing plants are “getting hammered with the virus.”
In late March, Riverence Holdings Director of Communications Gabe Watkins told SeafoodSource that the company had lost significant sales because of coronavirus.
“We have experienced a massive change to our sales because of foodservice going away,” Watkins said. “It is an interesting time to be a local producer with an absolutely full supply of fish … It is a different dynamic around us and we are subject to that.”
However, Riverence is “doing everything we can to give ourselves the best opportunity to rise again after this is all over, and continue to be a source of local jobs and 100 percent American fish (from egg to plate – a rarity in our market). Our neighbors and our country deserve this, and are counting on our survival,” the representative said.
“Like all businesses, we have to get through this! Once we do, we are hoping to hire as many as we can back,” the representative added.