California-based seafood business Aquamar has combined forces with New Jersey’s LM Foods to create “a new platform” in the surimi seafood market.
The financial details of the deal have not been disclosed but it has been announced Huron Capital, a Detroit-based private-equity firm, has made an equity investment in the venture, which will produce and sell crab flavoured seafood to foodservice, food manufacturing and retail channels, primarily in the US.
In a joint statement, the companies said: “This transition secures both companies’ futures by creating a larger, thriving, growing organisation that will provide greater scale, more cost-efficient operations, and expanded sales and distribution channels.”
Aquamar, based in Rancho Cucamonga, was co-founded in 1991 by company president Hugo Yamakawa, vice president of operations Taka Iwasaki, and a former partner. It produces both frozen and refrigerated products, most of which are sold under the Aquamar brand name. The company is one of the leading manufacturers of shred-style surimi in North America, selling to foodservice customers and major retailers.
Yamakawa and Iwasaki and will remain “as influential leaders in the business”, the companies said in the statement. They will also serve on the board of directors of the new platform.
LM Foods was founded in the early 1990s and is based in Carteret. It primarily produces frozen, private-label surimi seafood and sells products under the Classic Bay brand name. LM Foods’ CEO, Mark Olivito, will lead the new platform and serve on its board of directors.
He said: “Aquamar and LM Foods have complementary capabilities that we think will fit together nicely and serve as a growth platform moving forward. Having manufacturing facilities on both US coasts will enable us to serve our customers better and continue to expand the combined business.”
Yamakawa added: “With seafood consumption continually rising, the new platform will offer the most innovative and wide-ranging selection of surimi seafood products for our customers.”
The new company will continue to operate facilities in California and New Jersey and has plans to invest “significant capital” in both locations.
Olivito told just-food: “Both brands as well as operating facilities will be maintained, invested in and grown. [A] new holding company [has been] formed with former owners maintaining operating and shareholder components, along with key management having ownership.”
Iwasaki, Olivito, Yamakawa and other members of management will be significant shareholders in the new platform, alongside Huron Capital.