Thai Union aims to turn tuna heads into gold

Seafood giant sees fish oil and other high-margin items as key to growth

PETER JANSSEN, Contributing writer

Thai Union gets half its sales from canned tuna, but it is also looking to expand its lineup of more valuable products. (Photo by Kento Awashima)

BANGKOK -- Thai Union Group, the world's leading canned tuna exporter, is banking on its treasure trove of tuna heads to spur growth and lift profits.

The company makes about half of its sales from canned tuna, but is now looking to break into the market for refined fish oil and other higher-margin products made from byproducts like fish heads, skin, eyes and bones.

The push comes as Thai Union sales fell 1.2% last year to around $4.2 billion, due in part to the appreciation of the baht against the dollar. The company is aiming for a 5% increase this year, for which more valuable products will be key.

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