East Coast remains committed to Maine Fair Trade Lobster brand, despite sale of Gouldsboro facility

East Coast Seafood Group told SeafoodSource on Friday, 16 October, it remains committed to its Maine Fair Trade Lobster brand despite the announcement it had sold its 100,000-square-foot facility in Gouldsboro, Maine, U.S.A. to salmon aquaculture start-up American Aquafarms.

The New Bedford, Massachusetts, U.S.A.-based company did not disclose the sale price, but said it will continue operations there until the transfer is finalized.

“East Coast is currently operating the facility and continues to provide a positive impact in the rural community. Plans include continued operation at the facility, until the sale to Atlantic Aquafarms is complete,” East Coast Seafood CEO Brad Hudson said in an emailed statement.

Two years ago, East Coast began a reorganization centered around the opening of a 66,000-square-foot lobster and scallop processing facility in New Bedford, Massachusetts. As part of that initiative, the company shuttered its Garbo Lobster facility in Groton, Connecticut, in January 2019. East Coast also  sold its Clark’s Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada lobster pound to Mazzetta Co. in March 2020.

“East Coast Seafood Group is continuing diversification plans and strategic focus on its core processed seafood and value-added product lines for distribution in North America, Europe, and Asia,” Hudson told SeafoodSource. “To support continual growth, in 2020, we made additional investments to our state-of-the-art processing facility in New Bedford, where our 300-plus workforce continues to grow.”

Soon after East Coast closed Garbo’s Groton location, the company said it would shift some of its capacity to the Gouldsboro facility, a former sardine canning plant it purchased in a foreclosure auction in 2012 for USD 900,000 (EUR 768,000). The facility had previously been owned by Live Lobster and by Bumble Bee Foods. East Coast said in a press release announcing the Groton closure that it would “increase production capacity, optimize the production process, and enhance labor needs,” at the Gouldsboro plant. But with the sale, the local community stands to benefit, Hudson said.

“East Coast Seafood Group is excited about this new possibility for Maine and the respective local communities. The project is estimated to provide more significant employment opportunities over the long-term, ultimately creating increased job figures for Gouldsboro and the surrounding area,” he said.

The company remains committed to operating in Maine, Hudson said.

“Our company remains deeply committed to the Maine lobster industry and is proud of the integral relationships with hardworking harvester families along the North Atlantic coast,” he said. “Through our North American live lobster procurement division, East Coast Seafood Group remains one of the largest buyers of live lobster in the world for our processing operations and wholesale distribution. Respectively, the company consistently invests more than USD 40 million [EUR 34.1 million] inside Maine with lobster operations, and these types of expenditures will not end with a sale of the property.”

The company remains committed to the Maine Fair Trade Lobster brand plans to continue its use indefinitely, Hudson confirmed. Through the coronavirus pandemic, East Coast “has enjoyed an increased club and retail channel distribution for value-added seafood products, both domestically and internationally. 

“Through the close of 2020, we expect to process and sell more than 35 million pounds of seafood products worldwide,” he said.

Photo courtesy of Google


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