Chicken of the Sea
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|Headquarters||San Diego, California, USA|
|Owner(s)||Thai Union Group|
As a subsidiary it is based in San Diego, California, the company markets a variety of other seafood items under the Chicken of the Sea brand name, including clam, crab, mackerel, salmon, sardines and tuna. The original company was founded in 1914 when Frank Van Camp and his son bought the California Tuna Canning Company and changed the name to the Van Camp Seafood Company. The phrase Chicken of the Sea, first devised as a way to describe the taste, was so successful that soon it also became the company name.
In 1963, Van Camp Seafood Company was purchased by Ralston Purina. In 1988, Ralston sold its Van Camp division to an Indonesian corporation, P.T. Mantrust, which had financial problems, and the primary creditor, Prudential Life Insurance Company, became the majority owner.
In 1997 the company was purchased by the investment group Tri-Union Seafoods LLC, made up of three partners:
- Thai Union International Inc., a Thai conglomerate based in Bangkok and the then largest tuna packer in Asia and second largest in the world
- Edmund A. Gann, American owner of Caribbean Marine Service, Co., Inc., a tuna-fishing fleet
- Tri-Marine International, Inc., a global trading company formed in Singapore in 1972 dealing in tuna and tuna products headed by Renato Curto, president and majority shareholder.
The new owners changed the name of Van Camp Seafood Company to Chicken of the Sea International. In 2000, Tri-Marine International Inc and Edmund A. Gann sold their 50 percent interest in Chicken of the Sea to Thai Union International, Inc., leaving Thai Union the sole owner of the company. Chicken of the Sea International and Tri-Union International LLC merged into one company, still called Chicken of the Sea International.
With the 2003 acquisition of Empress International, an importer of frozen shrimp and other shellfish, Chicken of the Sea's total annual sales climbed to $600 million. In 2006, Thai Union formed a new division, Chicken of the Sea Frozen Foods, to focus on sales of premium quality fresh and frozen seafood products. This division has grown quickly, helping to further grow Chicken of the Sea's brand awareness and distribution in the food service and retail industries.
The company's official explanation for the name of their product:
- In the "old days," fishermen referred to the white albacore tuna as "chicken of the sea." It was called this because the white color and very mild flavor reminded them of chicken. The founder of the company thought this would be a unique name for a brand of tuna, and the Chicken of the Sea brand is now widely known in the Americas.
Their advertising mascot, a blonde mermaid with a golden scepter, was introduced in the 1950s and soon became a familiar product icon. In her book, The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy, Grace Lee Whitney is credited as being the original Chicken of the Sea Mermaid. One of the photographs in the book documents this. (She is mostly famous for playing Yeoman Janice Rand in the first season of the original Star Trek TV series).
"The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy"; by Grace Lee Whitney, Jim Denney, Foreword by Leonard Nimoy; Publisher: Linden Publishing; 1st edition (July 1, 1998); ISBN 1884956033 and ISBN 978-1884956034; pg 36