Chicken of the Sea International expects revenue growth of 8% and volume growth of 2% in the US despite a shrinking seafood market in that country.
Chicken of the Sea wants to be the No.1 seafood brand in America, besting Bumble Bee and StarKist, says Mr Sawyer. PORNPROM SATRABHAYA
The company, based in San Diego, California, is a subsidiary of the SET-listed Thai Union Frozen Products Plc (TUF) and the third-largest seafood brand in the US.
John Sawyer, the senior vice-president for sales and marketing, said the forecast is based on the assumption that the overall US seafood market will contract by 5% this year, as product prices have been rising on the back of costlier ingredients.
Since its acquisition in 1996 by Thai investors led by TUF, sales of Chicken of the Sea have more than tripled, from US$300 million to top $1 billion last year, he said during a visit to Bangkok.
The company markets tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines, clams and crab.
Canned seafood accounts for half of company revenue, with frozen and pet foods making up the rest.
Last year, US sales of Chicken of the Sea rose by 6%, while the overall market contracted by 5%, leaving the company with a market share of 18.7%.
The $2.6-billion US market has been in decline since about the start of 2011.
To continue its growth path amid the declining market, Mr Sawyer said the 99-year-old company will focus on innovation and renovation to capitalise on consumer trends in nutrition and convenience.
As well, it will increase its marketing and advertising budgets, especially to celebrate its centennial next year.
"We are working on a number of initiatives for next year," said Mr Sawyer.
He said the company plans to beat the two bigger seafood brands to gain the No.1 position in the competitive US market but declined to mention a time frame.
In what is called the shelf-stable seafood market, Bumble Bee and StarKist rank first and second in the US with market shares of 29% and 26%, respectively.
But Chicken of the Sea ranks first in that country's tuna market with a 19.3% share and in salmon with 23.5%.
The company's production facility in Lyons, Georgia imports most of the ingredients and even some finished products from Thailand.
Product prices in this segment on US shelves have been increasing almost every quarter to reflect higher costs, said Mr Sawyer.
One of the largest seafood producers globally, TUF operates factories in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, France, Portugal, the Seychelles and Ghana.
It has extensively acquired other global brands besides Chicken of the Sea, paying nearly $1 billion for Europe's MWBrands in 2010.
Currently, TUF's seafood brand portfolio includes John West, the No.1 brand in Britain, Ireland and the Netherlands; Petit Navire-Hyacinthe Parmentier, the leader in France; Mareblu, tops in Italy; and Century, first in China.
About the author
- Writer: Nareerat Wiriyapong
Position: Business Reporter