Thai Union says smoked salmon business showed sales weakness

Tuna giant known for its “Chicken of the Sea” brand also said that shutdown of Red Lobster chain contributed to EBITDA decline.

Seafood giant Thai Union posted its first-quarter results with operating profit up 49.9 per cent to EUR 43.6 million boosted mainly by tuna sales.

Though known for brands like John West, the Thai company also owns salmon companies such as the French distributor Europeenne De La Mer, Meralliance Armoric, Meralliance, Meralliance Poland as well as the Norwegian distributor Naco Trading.

The price of salmon saw some decline after a recent surge, it wrote. Salmon raw material prices in April were EUR 5.2/kg and EUR 6.3/kg overall for Q1 (up 19.9 per cent QoQ).

Q1 sales of the frozen and chilled seafood segment, which includes chilled, frozen and smoked salmon (as well as lobster and shrimp) were down 25 per cent compared to the same period before.

In Europe, it wrote that unlike its tuna brands which reported growth, the smoked salmon business (MerAlliance) showed sales weakness due to the closure of food operators during the pandemic.

TU bought 25 per cent stake in Florida-based Red Lobster, the world’s largest seafood restaurant chain in 2016.

Because of the US shutdowns, Red Lobster’s closure was mostly responsible for scalping off EUR 9.9 million of the giant’s EBITDA. Though Thai Union said that Red Lobster still had USD 200 million in the bank.