Bumble Bee Seafoods: A Kosher Tradition

IN 1899, a group of 7 fishermen in Astoria, Oregon banded together as the Columbia River Packers Association, or CRPA. Their simple goal was to fish and process sockeye salmon from Alaska’s Bristol Bay. In 1910, the CRPA introduced a new catch, albacore tuna, which was found in seasonal abundance off the Oregon coast. While the CRPA packed salmon and albacore tuna under many different brand names, one brand of particularly high quality was named after a local fishing vessel—the “Bumble Bee.” Nearly 50 years later, the company would even change its name to Bumble Bee Seafoods, Inc in honor of that brand’s size and prestige.

Bumble Bee TunaToday, Bumble Bee® is an integrated seafood company with approximately $750 million in annual revenues and a wholly owned subsidiary of ConAgra Foods, Inc.—one of the world’s largest branded food companies. In addition to providing the number one brand of canned albacore tuna and salmon in the United States under the Bumble Bee label, they also provide the number one brand of high-quality sardines under the King Oscar label; the number one brand of canned seafood in Canada under the Clover Leaf label; and the number one brand of refrigerated surimi in the United States under the Louis Kemp label. Each of these brands proudly bears the OU symbol of quality, a certification that goes back for decades.

Commented Chris Lischewski, President and Chief Operating Officer of Bumble Bee Seafoods, Inc.,

“We are proud of our long-standing relationship with the OU, as we know that its symbol is a critical measure of quality for our consumers.“

Maintaining that high tradition of quality is no easy task given the global reach of the company. As tuna swims around the globe, Bumble Bee® Seafoods’ OU-certified manufacturing facilities are in Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Fiji, Trinidad, California, and Minnesota. The company also sources products from an additional 40+ countries. Continued Lischewski,

“At virtually any hour of the day, we are processing tuna to high kosher standards somewhere in the world. The training investment is substantial, but the payoff is well worth it.”

Over the years Bumble Bee® Seafoods has constantly led the pace of innovation in the category, ensuring that it always provides the best quality products at competitive prices. The famous “Bumble Bee®” signature trademark, combined with the OU symbol of kosher certification, is an assurance of quality to the consumer.

Rabbi Doneal Epstein serves as the Orthodox Union’s rabbinic coordinator for Bumble Bee.

IN KEEPING WITH its tradition of category innovation and commitment to kosher products, Bumble Bee is introducing Bumble Bee Kosher for Passover Solid White Albacore tuna in February 2003. This product is specially prepared under the close supervision of the Orthodox Union to meet the highest standards of Jewish dietary law. Because Passover standards prohibit the use of soy-based broths (typically found in most tuna), this new product will actually have more fish placed in the can than ordinary tuna—meaning that this will be the best quality product available on the market!

Commented Christopher Lischewski, President and Chief Operating Officer of Bumble Bee Seafoods, Inc.,

“As the quality leaders in the tuna category for many years, we are proud to add the Kosher for Passover product to our line-up beginning next year. This has been a terrific collaborative effort with the OU to bring a superior quality product to Jewish and non-Jewish consumers alike. Anyone who appreciates great quality tuna will appreciate this product.”

Bumble Bee has offered a Kosher for Passover version of King Oscar Sardines in Olive Oil for the last several years with great success, but this is the company’s first foray into OU-P tuna. Continued Lischewski, “We are now seeing some of our retail customers putting a Kosher buying program in place, where they are actively seeking out new Kosher products—particular as Passover approaches but even on an ongoing basis. We think this OU-P product will fit nicely with that trend.”

Bumble Bee Kosher for Passover Solid White Albacore will be available on a limited basis at first as the company assesses how much consumer demand exists for this high-quality tuna. It will feature a distinctive black, silver and white label and will be supported with print advertisements in many Jewish magazines and periodicals, including the OU’s own Jewish Action magazine.

OU Kosher Staff