Diversified seafood group Cooke is partnering with US retail and lifestyle entrepreneur Martha Stewart on a new range of value-added seafood products using raw material from its global farmed and wild supply companies.

Cooke, under its True North Seafood sales arm, is teaming up on the range with Sequential Brands Group, which licenses a range of consumer brands, including Martha Stewart’s, the seafood company told Undercurrent News. The range will launch next month and will be on show at the upcoming Boston seafood show, held in the East Coast US city from March 17-19.

The product line offers a range of True North products accompanied by a Martha Stewart signature butter flavor or spice blend. Packaging will also include a recipe created by Stewart’s “test kitchen” team, the company said. These include Atlantic salmon with lemon herb butter; sockeye salmon with miso butter; pollock with a southwest spice blend, and a seafood medley – using pollock, salmon, and bay scallops -- with a herb spice blend. The products are in skin-packaging and sold refrigerated, a Cooke spokesman told Undercurrent.

“Knowing where my seafood comes from is very important to me, and I’ve enjoyed and served True North Seafood to family and friends for years,” said Stewart, in a statement.

“After visiting True North’s salmon farms near my Skylands home in Maine, I saw first-hand their innovative and industry leading methods of sustainable farming and fishing. Their passion for the environment and community is why they are one of North America’s largest and most trusted producers of fresh farmed and wild-caught seafood from the Gulf of Alaska to the Atlantic,” she said.

“We are thrilled to be launching this new product line in partnership with the Martha Stewart team,” said Glenn Cooke, CEO of Cooke. “It is great for us to be able to work with Martha’s team to bring delicious, well-thought-out meals to all tables, even those who have busy schedules and minimal prep time.”

“This line is all about convenience and quality product,” said Andrew Young, vice president of global sales and marketing with True North. “It is a perfect option for existing seafood customers while encouraging new customers who may not be as comfortable buying or preparing seafood to shop the category.”

The downstream deal with Stewart comes after Cooke completed a major upstream move earlier in February with the closure of its long-awaited acquisition of Seajoy Group, a fully integrated Latin American shrimp producer.

The prospect of the deal was first reported by Undercurrent News last June, but took more than half a year to reach the finish line.

By buying Seajoy from Peder Jacobson, who founded the company in Ecuador’s Gulf of Guayaquil, in 1979, Cooke is gaining Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) farms spread across Honduras and Nicaragua with almost 3,500 hectares (8,650 acres) as well as a 6,000 square meter processing plant in Choluteca, Honduras, capable of producing 100,000 pounds of finished product daily.

About 60% of Seajoy’s production is value-added, including peeled and deveined meats, butterfly cuts, skewers, raw breaded, and cooked shrimp. Also, the factory maintains coldstorage capable of holding up to 1 million lbs of finished product.

Cooke's CEO confirmed early in December at a meeting with Canadian press and a member of parliament in the province of New Brunswick, near his company’s headquarters, that his deal for one of Latin America’s largest shrimp farming companies was imminent. His comments followed months earlier reports by Undercurrent about the impending deal, though he continued to avoid naming the company.

"We want to build an Atlantic Canada-based powerhouse that can compete with the largest global, publicly-traded seafood companies out there," he reportedly said at the time.

Cooke already is quite formidable, ranking 16th on Undercurrent’s 2017 list of the “World’s 100 Largest Seafood Companies”. It produces around 1 billion pounds, or 454,000 metric tons, of farmed and wild seafood per year, Cooke told the Telegraph-Journal in December.

The Cooke group directly controls more than 17 farmed and wild species spanning the globe. The company which operates as Cooke Aquaculture in salmon, seabass and seabream farming and Cooke Seafood USA in wild catch, where it owns Icicle Seafoods and Wanchese Fish Company. Cooke has also got into wild-catch in Latin America, buying Uruguay-based Fripur in 2016.

Cooke suggested in December that Seajoy would be placed inside the company’s Chilean aquaculture division, which operates salmon farms and a processing plant.

Contact the author tom.seaman@undercurrentnews.com

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