Pandemic Prompts Seafood Supplier to Make Retailer-Centric Moves

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Pandemic Prompts Seafood Supplier to Make Retailer-Centric Moves

By Mike Troy - 01/11/2021
Roger O'Brien and Michael Cigliano
Roger O'Brien, left, president and CEO, and Michael Cigliano, board chairman and EVP of Santa Monica Seafood.

With demand for seafood surging amid the pandemic, leading processor and distributor Santa Monica Seafood has bolstered its capabilities to serve retailers nationwide by acquiring full ownership of the Ethos Seafood Group.

“With this transaction now complete, all of our divisions and operations are now fully owned,” said Roger O’Brien, president and CEO of Santa Monica Seafood. “Since Santa Monica Seafood has historically provided all operational and administrative support for Ethos Seafood, this transaction should have no noticeable effect on daily activity and operations.”

Ethos Seafood was previously owned by a group unaffiliated with Santa Monica Seafood. Now, Santa Monica Seafood owns 100% of Ethos Seafood, which develops and sells pre-packaged, chilled seafood products to grocers. In addition to offering all major seafood species in a fresh format, Ethos Seafood develops value-added seafood products with rubs, sauces and butters that are ready to heat and eat.

Going forward, the Ethos Seafood name will go away and the division will be referred to as Santa Monica Seafood – Value Added Products Division, or SMS – VAP Division. It will be led by Michael Cigliano, board chairman and EVP of Santa Monica Seafood.

“Pre-packaged seafood not only allows for easy handling, it is responsive to retailers’ and customers’ need to minimize touchpoints and their time in stores,” Cigliano said.

The move comes as Santa Monica Seafood recently completed improvements that double the size of its facility in Chicago to 47,000-sq.-ft. where value added products are created. The expansion added more packing lines and freezer space. In addition, the company plans to add additional space to an existing 120,000-sq.-ft. value added production facility in Southern California in 2021.

“We are increasing our capacity in both Chicago and Los Angeles to handle the rapid growth our SMS-VAP Division has been experiencing in both geographic areas,” O’Brien said.

The strategic investment and production capacity moves bolster the 81-year-old privately owned company’s status as the largest specialty wholesale distributor and processor of fresh and frozen seafood in the Southwest. It currently operates 12 facilities in California, Arizona, Nevada, Illinois, Texas and New Mexico encompassing 250,000-sq.-ft.

The company also owns and operates two retail stores and cafes in Santa Monica and Costa Mesa, California. It was also the first and remains the only seafood company in the U.S. to achieve FSSC 22000 certification for food safety management systems, ISO 14001 certification for environmental management programs and BAP certification for its main processing facility for repacking salmon and tilapia products.