Thai Union rolls out innovative products after price-fixing fallout

Thai Union’s Chicken of the Sea and other brands launched innovative new products in the United States recently, as Chicken of the Sea fights to recover from class action price-fixing litigation.

“The financial exposure [from the antitrust litigation] has been substantially higher than originally anticipated,” Thai Union said in its second quarter 2019 earnings report. The net impact from antitrust ligation in its second quarter was THB 1.4 billion (USD 46 million, EUR 41 million). 

However, Chicken of the Sea has now settled with a large majority of the plaintiffs.

“We believe that the financial impact of this litigation is now fully provided for by Chicken of the Sea,” Thai Union said.

Overall, sales of Thai Union’s North American brands – which include Chicken of the Sea, Chicken of the Sea Frozen Foods, Red Lobster, and King Oscar – dropped 1.1 percent to THB 12.79 billion (USD 415 million, EUR 375 million). 

Thai Union said the decline was partly due to a drop in Thai exports to the United States due to depreciation of the U.S. dollar against the Thai baht. In addition, Chicken of the Sea’s canned tuna sales dropped in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2019. 

However, new Chicken of the Sea products and line extensions are expected to boost sales in the second half of the year. Earlier this month, Chicken of the Sea launched its Wild Catch premium tuna line in unique transparent plastic packaging rather than cans or pouches. 

“Wild Catch is a range of premium, responsibly wild-caught seafood, including Albacore, Ahi Yellowfin, and Alaskan Salmon. It is 100 percent natural, packed with just hand-selected fillet pieces, water and sea salt,” Thai Union said.

The transparent pack, which includes information on Thai Union’s SeaChange program, “allows consumers to see for themselves a higher standard of quality,” according to the supplier.

Chicken of the Sea also continues to heavily promote its ready-to-eat, flavored tuna line, Infusions, which rolled out nationwide in the U.S. earlier this year.

And, while canned tuna sales declined in the quarter, Thai Union said its frozen shrimp and lobster sales rose in the second quarter. Chicken of the Sea Frozen Foods recently launched “fully-prepped, ready-to-eat” cooked lobster meat retail packs under its Orion Seafood brand. 

The vacuum-sealed, five-ounce lobster packs are sold in club stores, such as BJ’s Wholesale and Meijer, along with national retail chains.

Another U.S. product launch is King Oscar (USA)’s Royal Selection Brisling Sardines self-stable line in unique see-through packaging with easy-peel lid. The sardines are shipping soon to select U.S. retailers including Albertsons/ Safeway, Amazon, Supervalu, and others.

The Royal Selection Bristling Sardines are Marine Stewardship Council-certified, sustainably wild-caught fish, according to Thai Union.

Beyond the U.S. market, Chicken of the Sea’s Infusions line was recently introduced in the Thai market. The ready-to-eat tuna line, sold in three flavors, is available at 7-11, Tops Supermarket, and WeFitness gym in Thailand.

Thai Union is also focusing on growing its Red Lobster restaurant chain - which operates around 500 restaurants in the U.S. alone. As part of international expansion plans, Red Lobster opened its first location in Beijing, China, in July. 

Red Lobster’s key selling points include “fresh, reasonably priced seafood, fun atmosphere, and ability to accommodate large groups,” Thai Union said.  

Photo courtesy of Thai Union.


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