Based in San Diego, California, the company markets a variety of other seafood items under the Chicken of the Sea brand name, including clam, crab, mackerel, salmon and sardines. The original company was founded in 1914 when Frank Van Camp and his son bought the California Tuna Canning Company and changed the name to the Van Camp Seafood Company. The phrase Chicken of the Sea, first devised as a way to describe the taste, was so successful that soon it also became the company name.
In 1963, Van Camp Seafood Company was purchased by Ralston Purina. In 1988, Ralston sold its Van Camp division to an Indonesian corporation, P.T. Mantrust, which had financial problems, and the primary creditor, Prudential Life Insurance, became the majority owner. In 1997 the company was purchased by the investment group Tri-Union Seafoods LLC, made up of three partners.
In 2000, Tri-Marine International Inc and Edmund A. Gann sold their 50 percent interest in Chicken of the Sea to Thai Union International, Inc., leaving Thai Union the sole owner of the company. Chicken of the Sea International and Tri-Union International LLC merged into one company, still called Chicken of the Sea International.
With the 2003 acquisition of Empress International, an importer of frozen shrimp and other shellfish, Chicken of the Sea's total annual sales climbed to $600 million. In 2006, Thai Union formed a new division, Chicken of the Sea Frozen Foods, to focus on sales of premium quality fresh and frozen seafood products. This division has grown quickly, helping to further grow Chicken of the Sea's brand awareness and distribution in the foodservice and retail industries.