Trident responds to market, plans to freeze more pinks at Wrangell plant

As the market continues to shift from canned salmon toward more frozen product, “the company wants more frozen pinks,” said Trident Seafoods Southeast regional manager John Scoblic. Which means Trident will freeze pinks along with chums at its Wrangell plant this summer.

After a three-year closure due to weak chum returns, Trident plans to reopen its Wrangell plant, buying and freezing salmon in July and August.

“We’ll be testing out some new things there,” Jeff Welbourn, Trident’s senior vice president for Alaska operations, said at last week’s Southeast Conference in Juneau.

It’s too early to provide details of the company’s plans, he said in an interview after the fisheries panel discussion, though he did add that the company will work on the plant’s refrigeration system to make it more efficient.

The goal is to boost the plant’s capacity to process and freeze fish.

“How much can you get through those freezers,” he said. “We’re going to see how efficiently we can run.”

Scoblic called pinks and chums “the bread and butter of Southeast.” The two species far exceed the catch by weight and number of fish of chinook, sockeye and coho, though those other species fetch higher prices.

Trident expects to start work in late February or early March to bring the Wrangell plant “out of mothballs.” In addition to improving the refrigeration system, the work list includes the roof, some structural components, flooring, electrical and plumbing, and even some pilings along the waterfront, Welbourn said.

The work likely will continue “up to the minute to when we process (fish).”

Welbourn declined to give an estimate for the cost of work at the plant, referring to it only as “a good number.”

Trident expects to employ a little over 100 workers for the season, a lighter payroll than in past years.

The company also operates a smaller facility in Petersburg and a larger plant in Ketchikan, which includes a canning line.

Trident purchased the Wrangell plant almost 14 years ago.

 

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