Monday, February 20, 2012

Salmon future looks fine, Icicle manager says

John Woodruff, vice president of operations for Icicle Seafoods Inc., was another speaker Friday at the Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference meeting. And he had plenty to say.

Seattle-based Icicle is one of the largest seafood processors operating in Alaska. In fact, Woodruff ranks his company third among shoreside operators behind Trident and Maruha Nichiro.

"I'm a fish buyer," Woodruff began his talk. He oversees production at Icicle's Petersburg, Seward, Larsen Bay and Egegik plants, and spends a good part of his days talking directly with commercial fishermen.

Icicle also has floating processors, including the Northern Victor, a pollock processing ship based near Dutch Harbor.

Here's a sampler of Woodruff's remarks Friday:

• The outlook for wild Alaska salmon is rosy. Demand for two species in particular, pink and chum salmon, has surged remarkably.

Six or eight years ago, pinks paid fishermen only a nickel a pound, Woodruff said. Last year, Icicle paid 45 cents.

"There's a huge interest in wild-capture fish," he said, summing up the general market.

• Woodruff doesn't see quite the same upside for sockeye, historically the main money fish in Alaska's salmon crop.

"I personally don't think sockeye prices are gonna do what pinks and chums have done," he said.

He noted sockeye fillets marked at $9 a pound in Safeway stores.

"That's pretty pricey," Woodruff said.

Bristol Bay is the state's major sockeye fishery. Can fishermen there expect higher prices this summer?

"If I was a Bristol Bay fisherman, I'd plan for prices like what we've seen the past couple of years and hope for better," Woodruff said.

Last year's price was around $1 per pound, not counting bonuses.

• Speaking of Bristol Bay, Woodruff discussed the fishery's drive toward chilling more of the catch for better quality.

He said "well in excess" of half the fish Icicle buys at Bristol Bay is chilled, either with ice or refrigerated seawater systems aboard boats.

Bristol Bay packers, who once just canned the sockeye or froze them whole, now fillet about 15 percent of the catch, mainly for the domestic market, Woodruff said.

• Icicle's newest processing plant is at remote Adak, a former military base far out the Aleutian chain.

The plant is taking crab deliveries now, and contributing significant taxes to the fledging city of Adak, Woodruff said.

• In 2007, a private equity firm bought out Icicle.

"I gotta tell ya, I feel good about 'em," Woodruff said. "They allow us to do our job."

The goal of the firm, Paine & Partners, is to build up Icicle and then sell the company, he said.


Anonymous said...

"Mr. Giles said, “In Fox Paine III we have found a strategic partner who will help Icicle Seafoods realize our vision to grow our operations in current and new markets while remaining true to our heritage....

Paine and Partners proprietary investing process is at the heart of our ability to identify high return investment opportunities...

"I gotta tell ya, I feel good about 'em..."

"remaining true to out heritage"

Icicle Seafoods, have we got a deal for you!

On January 8, 1991, the Seattle Seven and Exxon settled the Seattle Seven's claims for the 1989 and 1990 fishing seasons in exchange for a payment of $63.75 million. To avoid the punitive damages dilemma, the parties included in the agreement a "cede back" provision. The provision stated that the Seattle Seven would not release their punitive damages claims against Exxon but would instead remain parties to the litigation in order to receive their share of an eventual punitive damages award, which they would then cede back to Exxon. The existence of a settlement agreement was made known to the rest of the subsequent punitive damages class, but its terms were kept confidential.

Paine and Partners, we own a seed company too, where "every seed is a promise."

Anonymous said...

Bad seed is a robbery of the worst kind: for your pocket-book not only suffers by it, but your preparations are lost and a season passes away unimproved.
George Washington

Anonymous said...

Happy President's Day!

Anonymous said...

$9 lb. pricey? Bullshit. It usually sells for $14-$18 lb. I guess since they only get $5-$10 lb. more for reds than pinks or chums, they can only afford to pay $.50 lb more for it. Processing salmon coming up roses, harvesters getting the thorns.

Anonymous said...

And then there is the equal investment of farm fish that Icicle participates in. And, they should insure that their Pollock Draggers stay out of Salmon migration routes. Last Year, their mighty Captain of the Half Moon Bay (company boat) had the Largest King Salmon By-catch in the whole Bering Sea! And they want to help salmon fishermen? Get Real!

Anonymous said...

Don't borrow from them... and don't sell to them! They condone Bottom Trawling which is wrecking havoc to all the eco-systems which all other fish and crustaceans need to survive.

Anonymous said...

My Butt is Sore.

Anonymous said...

That's a very common cabin boy problem.,16641,19890724,00.html

Anonymous said...

If Daddy don't own a boat, that's what you gotta do these days...

Anonymous said...

Thank you Icicle for saving Adak and saving our jobs

Anonymous said...

Yes, thank you Icicle?

Where we pass the savings on to you too!

Anonymous said...

The last line is revealing - " up Icicle then sell the company.."! The Fish Barons are jumping out of their boats as fast as they can. The suckers on the front lines are the CDQ groups. These guys are smart, really, really smart.