Gorton's of Gloucester
|Headquarters||Gloucester, Massachusetts, United States|
|Judson Reis, CEO|
|Parent||Nippon Suisan Kaisha|
Gorton's of Gloucester is a subsidiary of Japanese seafood conglomerate Nippon Suisan Kaisha, Ltd., producing fishsticks and other frozen seafood for the retail market in the United States. Gorton's also has a North American food service business which sells to fast-food restaurants such as McDonald's, and an industrial coating ingredients operation. It has been headquartered in Gloucester, Massachusetts, since 1849.
The company traces its roots to a fishery called John Pew & Sons. William Pew, son of John Pew, picked up fishing after serving as a Colonial soldier in the French and Indian War. While most people moved West after the war, Pew turned eastward and arrived in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1755. The father-and-son fishery business emerged as an official commercial company, John Pew & Sons, in 1849.
When nearby Rockport's chief industry, the Annisquam Cotton Mill, burned down, Slade Gorton, the mill's superintendent, was out of a job. At his wife's urging, he began a fishing business in 1874 known as Slade Gorton & Company, and began to pack and sell salt codfish and mackerel in small kegs. This company was the first to package salt-dried fish in barrels. In 1899, the company patented the "Original Gorton Fish Cake". In 1905, the Slade Gorton Company adopted the fisherman at the helm of a schooner (the "Man at the Wheel") as the company trademark. Today, he is known as the Gorton's Fisherman.
In 1906, Slade Gorton & Company, John Pew & Sons, and two other Gloucester fisheries merged into the Gorton-Pew Fisheries. They made Gorton's codfish cakes a household name in New England.
The company went into the fish-freezing business in the early 1930s. In 1949, Gorton-Pew made headlines when it drove the first refrigerator trailer truck shipment of frozen fish from Gloucester to San Francisco—a trip that took eight days. In 1953, the company was the first to introduce a frozen ready-to-cook fish stick, which won the Parents magazine Seal of Approval.
In 1957, Gorton-Pew Fisheries name was changed to Gorton's of Gloucester; in 1965, it became The Gorton Corporation, and it is now known as Gorton's. In 1968, Gorton's merged with General Mills, Inc., as a wholly owned subsidiary.
In May 1995, Unilever bought Gorton's from General Mills. In August 2001, Unilever sold Gorton's and BlueWater Seafoods to Nippon Suisan (USA), Inc., a subsidiary of Nippon Suisan Kaisha, Ltd., for $175 million in cash.
Gorton's came under attack from three environmentalist and animal-rights groups — the Environmental Investigation Agency, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Greenpeace — due to its parent company's involvement in whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. These groups hoped that international companies owned by Nippon Suisan Kaisha would persuade their parent company to stop supporting whaling if they were put under enough pressure. Eventually, Nippon Suisan Kaisha agreed to divest its ownership in the company that owned the whaling fleet. Greenpeace hailed this as a victory, and the boycott of Gorton's ended.
- Official website
- BlueWater Seafoods, Gorton's subsidiary in Canada
- See Food Differently, an August 2004 trade magazine story about Gorton's
- Unilever sells seafood business, an August 2001 article
- Gorton's on Protecting their Resources
- America's Oldest Seaport, a short film about Gorton's and Gloucester