$400m Peruvian group snaps up US squid supplier

A Peruvian seafood group with an annual turnover of more than $400m has inked a deal for one of the major players in the US squid sector
A Peruvian seafood group with an annual turnover of more than $400 million has acquired one of the most prominent players in the US squid sector, sources told Undercurrent News. Peru’s Oceano Corp., which snapped up Spanish cephalopod supplier Pesfasa from bankruptcy earlier this year, has acquired Rhode Island-based Sea Fresh U.S.A., sources said.

Sea Fresh owns and operates its vessels and an unloading dock in Galilee, a fishing village on Point Judith within the town of Narragansett, on the southern end of the state. It also owns a British Retail Consortium-approved processing plant in nearby North Kingstown, according to the company website.

The company handles Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified Ilex and loligo squid and has a turnover of around $50m, sources said. In addition to MSC squid, Sea Fresh also supplies cleaned and whole loligo calamari, sushi-quality tuna and fluke, as well as other whole fish and fillets, such as monkfish, skate and scup.

Sea Fresh president James Fox, who founded the company in 1981, did not respond to requests for comment from Undercurrent. Michael McGregor, CEO of Oceano, also did not respond.

Antarctica Advisors, a boutique corporate finance firm focused on seafood, reportedly advised Sea Fresh on the sale. Executives with the company could not be reached for comment byUndercurrent.

According to sources, Oceano has been indicating the deal has closed and representing Sea Fresh as one of its subsidiaries.

However, the Rhode Island business registry still lists Fox as the only director and shareholder.

Fox is also still listed as the only director and shareholder of Dave Handrigan Seafood, which Sea Fresh’s website describes as an “affiliated dock.” The company’s website states that Handrigan unloads and buys fish and provides ice and other services for several dozen local independent and company-owned fishing vessels.

Fox owns at least two fishing vessels, Second Wind and Rayda Cheramie. He’s listed as a director of Second Wind Fisheries, which owns the former, then Rayda Cheramie is owned by Fox Fisheries, which he also controls.

Non-US citizens can only own 25% of US fishing vessels or licenses. When Spain’s Grupo Profand acquired Rhode Island squid firm Seafreeze, it partnered with US citizen and East Coast Seafood Group co-founder Michael Tourkistas on the majority stake of its vessels.

There’s no limit on the level of ownership a non-US citizen can have of land-based assets, so Oceano can own all of Sea Fresh and Handrigan if the latter is also part of the deal.

The addition of Sea Fresh takes Oceano to around $425m in turnover, sources said.

Oceano Seafood, which belongs to the group, is one of Peru’s top exporters of frozen seafood for direct human consumption. The company operates five plants in the Latin American country processing Humboldt and giant squid, in addition to Pesfasa in Spain. Oceano also has a logistical arm; Bluefish Oceanmar, a pelagic and seafood trading company; and Oceano Foods, which produces value-added products for the Peruvian market.

The Peruvian firm registered a US entity, Oceano Seafood International, in 2020. Oceano Seafood International is based in Miami, Florida.

McGregor is listed as the company’s sole director.