Idaho-based Riverence Holdings on Saturday announced it acquired rival trout giant Clear Springs Foods, making the group the largest producer of land-based trout in the Americas.
With the Clear Springs deal, the company's operations now include Riverence Brood in Washington State and Riverence Farms, and gives it an even stronger position as a vertically-integrated producer.
The company raises its eggs in Washington State, will operate 14 growout farms in Idaho's Magic Valley near the Snake River, and operates two processing facilities, a value-added processing facility, a waste recovery plant and feed mill. In addition, the company operates a fleet of 12 tractor trailers for distribution.
Combined, the two groups have the capacity to produce over 15,000 metric tons annually.
Clear Springs CEO Jeff Jermunson said the acquisition is part of Riverence "starting to re-imagine the potential of the US trout industry."
Gabe Watkins, director of communications for Riverence, told IntraFish he is excited to have the legacy of Clear Springs Foods as part of the Riverence family.
"Fifty four years of dedicated experience is something I very much respect,"he said. "They’ve (Clear Springs) endured the test of time, and have led the way for land-based trout production for decades, and I believe this is a watershed moment for American aquaculture."
The companies said they would maintain existing brands, team members and markets. The group's staff now numbers 450.
"The Magic Valley will continue to be the base of operations for both Riverence and Clear Springs Foods, and we intend to move onward and upward while supporting our existing brands, team members, and the markets we serve," said Riverence CEO Rob Young. "In this place, we have found a community of like-minded people as foundational to our operations as the ground from which the valley’s thousand springs flow."
Turning trout into a premium product has proved challenging for the company. Riverence is producing trout as well as salmon eggs in a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) in Washington state and raising steelhead trout in Idaho for commercial production.
When Riverence purchased Seapac of Idaho in 2017 -- which at the time was the second-largest trout producer in North America -- the company's product balance was much more toward rainbow trout, Riverence Director of Communications Gabe Watkins previously told IntraFish in October.
Since that time, however, the company has transitioned that operation into a majority steelhead-producing group.
In addition, the company has pushed to change the traditional thinking behind trout production: high volume, lower price.
"First and foremost, we will now have full ‘egg to plate’ control of the supply chain, as well as increased production, processing, and distribution capacity," Watkins said of the Clear Springs acquisition. "Clear Springs has a very mature trucking fleet and distribution program with national market reach, which means both Clear Springs and Riverence products will have greater nationwide availability, and precise, reliable cold chain control."
Riverence was formed when Spring Salmon Group acquired the AquaSeed Corporation in Rochester, Washington, in 2014. The group is backed by Hollywood producer David E. Kelley, who founded Riverence six years ago. He continues to serve as its chairman.
The acquisition was advised by Antarctica Advisors.