Nichirei Foods America (NFA), a subsidiary of Japan’s Nichirei Foods has sold its Fife processing plant to Seattle seafood conglomerate Trident Seafood.

Joe Bundrant, vice president of sales and marketing for Trident says that workers and other local companies that do business with the plant—which employs 103—need not worry.

“The biggest change we’re looking at is simply bringing this plant into our operations. There will always be some changes when an acquisition such as this takes place—some of their business functions may be folded into our operations—but whatever takes place is going to be minimal.”

Gary Bettencourt, president of Nichirei Foods America echoes the sentiment, adding, “We’re very happy to be part of the Fife/Tacoma region. I just want to emphasize, to businesses that we’ve developed working relationships with, that we’re not going anywhere.”

The plant produces surimi seafood and the premier imitation crab brand, Sea Legs, which is widely used in sushi and related dishes. Bettencourt, who will stay on as the plant’s general manager, estimates the plant will produce about 20 million pounds of seafood products this year.

“This marks the first phase of Trident Seafoods’ aggressive new branding strategy,” announced Bundrant. Trident Seafoods is a vertically-integrated company which catches, processes and distributes Pacific seafoods to national restaurant chains and foodservice distributors across the country and internationally.

The privately-held Trident doesn’t release financial data but—on its annual ranking of private companies—the Puget Sound Business Journal ranks it as one of Washingtons largest private companies, with estimated revenues of $390 million.

Bettencourt says he views the acquisition by Trident Seafoods as a “win-win” for employees of both companies as well as for customers.

“Over the past several years, Nichirei Foods America has worked hard to create an efficient, top-of-the-line operation,” Bettencourt says. “We have a brand that has a great reputation nationwide. Trident, with its extensive distribution channels and access to the resource, will significantly enhance the brand,” he adds. “It’s a good move for both companies.”

At press time, government antitrust approval was still pending, but most parties anticipate no complication. The transaction is expected to close some time in mid-May. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

By Christopher Hord, Business Examiner staff