US canned seafood firm Bumble Bee has said it is to merge with Canadian canned sardine producer Connors Bros, creating the largest branded seafood company in North America.

Bumble Bee president and chief executive officer Christopher Lischewski is to become CEO of the new company, while Connors' CEO, Edward McLean, will become executive vice president, sardine operations and procurement. Operating headquarters will be maintained in San Diego, where Bumble Bee is based, and in Canada. 

Lischewski said the deal "creates a diversified North American seafood powerhouse made up of industry-leading brands with number one or two share positions in virtually every canned seafood category." 

"The combination of our respective brands, low-cost operations, and strong management teams should position the company for strong future growth. This will be achieved through continuous operating improvements, product innovation, geographic expansion, and accretive acquisitions," he added. 

Bumble Bee produces canned tuna, salmon, and specialty seafood products marketed under brands such as Bumble Bee, Clover Leaf and Orleans.

New Brunswick, Canada-based Connors is the world's largest producer of canned sardines. The company's brands include Brunswick and Beach Cliff.