SeaFood Business

MAY 2014

SeaFood Business is the global trusted authority for seafood buyers and sellers. We are the seafood industry's leading trade magazine with more than 30 years of experience. Our coverage is based on the "business" of buying and selling seafood.

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Page 22 of 42

Top Story Photos by Angela Coulombe Brand equity Consolidation, high prices, branding bump sales for top North American seafood suppliers BY JAMES WRIGHT A ccess to resources and lucrative markets got the continent's leading seafood suppliers to the top of a crowded feld of competitors. Maintaining relationships with key customers and building trusted, branded product lines should keep them there. The annual SeaFood Business Top 25 North American Seafood Suppliers list illustrates the importance of name recognition. Except for the No. 1-ranked company, Tri Marine International of Bellevue, Wash., a tuna feet operator supplying the largest canned tuna companies, the leading suppliers in terms of dollar sales are bullish on brands. Unlike the beef, poultry and pork industries, sea- food companies are great in number with widely varying business models across the industry. As the economy continues on a path of gradu- al incline, mergers and acqui- sitions (M&A) are becoming more commonplace (three major supply-side deals were made in the past year). But no longer are companies acquired merely for their accounts — the strength of brands is what's driving consolidation today, even in the U.S. wholesale seafood arena, which is worth ap- proximately $40 billion each year, according to the Na- tional Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administra- tion's Fisheries Service. "Our focus is buying branded businesses, prefer- ably value-added. Brands set you apart and if you can buy great brands they come with an intrinsic value to the customer and the consumer," says Keith Decker, president of High Liner Foods USA in Portsmouth, N.H. "Brands that have been around for de- cades have their own perso- na, if you will, and we believe brands are the diferentiator to set you apart, whether you're a vertically integrated producer or a market-facing company. If you're stuck in the middle, ultimately you're not going to be successful and make the types of mar- gins that keep you in busi- ness for a long time." Te 115-year-old Lunen- burg, Nova Scotia-based com- pany, one of only two publicly traded seafood companies in North America, holds on to its No. 4 ranking for the second straight year with CAD 947.4 ($893.7 million) in 2013 sales, up from CAD 942.6 million. A high-profle purchase of Icelandic USA in late 2011 padded annual sales by more than CAD 250 mil- lion ($227.8 million). In Oc- tober, High Liner acquired American Pride Seafood from American Seafoods Group of Seattle; a full four quarters of revenues from scallop sales 18 SeaFood Business May 2014 Visit us online at "Te marketplace has a lot of choices, so you need to position a strong brand, par- ticularly with seafood," says Christine Ngo, executive VP of H&N Foods International in Vernon, Calif., which im- ports and distributes a range of fresh and frozen seafood under its Blue River, Pacifc Light and Pacifc Delight brands. H&N debuts on this year's list at No. 12 with $417 million in 2013 sales. "For a company like ours, if we don't position ourselves we can't go to market," says Ngo. "We want people to re- member us and the product we source for them." The Top 25 North American Seafood Suppliers earned $13 billion-plus in sales. 18_21TopStory.indd 18 4/16/14 9:35 AM

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