Tuna canners struggling

Business, Normal

The National, Wednesday 22nd August, 2012

THE revenue of Wewak-based tuna loiner and canner  South Seas Tuna Corporation (SSTC),  has been reduced by more than 50% since it began operations in 2004, general manager Mike McCulley said from Wewak yesterday.
He said the most-difficult issue the company had to overcome was the continuing weakening of the US dollar against the kina.
The company is implementing several projects to cut down on operational costs.
“We’re looking at solar power water heating to reduce the fuel used to produce steam and also alternative waste water treatment systems to reduce waste and recover more of the usable proteins and tuna oil,” McCulley said.
“We can sell the protein in the form of fishmeal and use the oil to run our boiler instead of buying diesel fuel.”
SSTC is a joint venture company of FCF Fisheries Company of Taiwan, Jaczon Group of the Netherlands and PNG interests.
It was formed specifically to own and operate a tuna venture in the country.
It is a fully-integrated tuna project with state-of-the-art processing facility and was viewed by the World Bank as a model for development of the private sector economy.
Incorporated in 2000, it began manufacturing in 2004, exporting frozen cooked and cleaned tuna loins to European markets.
The company exports 850 metric tonnes of frozen loins and 160 metric tonnes of fishmeal per month.
Three years ago, SSTC began producing product for the local market but had to cease its canning operations last November due to lack of raw materials.
“Actually, the most difficult issue we have to overcome is the continuing weakening of the US dollar or continued strengthening of the kina,” McCulley said.
“Because of the exchange rate, our revenue in kina has been reduced by over 50% since we commenced operations in 2004.
“Every month of every year, we try very, very hard to be profitable.”
it has to take few more years before SSTC reaches sustained profitability.”