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Major Tuna Players Partner In New PNG Tuna Plant

Frabelle firmed partnerships with two major tuna processing companies –Century Tuna and Thai Union– to build a new tuna processing plant in Lae, Morobe Province - Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Frabelle is traditionally a tuna fishing company in PNG; nevertheless is has already a tuna processing plant of 180M/T per day capacity in the same city where the new one will be installed.

The general manager of Frabelle, Mr. Gus Navidad, refers to the new plant as a “Completely independent business opportunity that stands on its own”.

According to him the new plant will focus on canned tuna and, initially, will have a 120M/T per day processing capacity with plans to reach 350 M/T a day in one year.

“Maybe later, both Frabelle’s processing plants will be sharing the same supply, but now management and everything else will be independent”.

The total investment applied will be around USD 25 million for the initial phase. The three companies will have equivalent 1/3 ownership of the plant.

The installation of the new tuna processor was facing some local problems related to land ownership: “that was solved 2 days ago”, affirmed Mr. Navidad: “we will start to prepare the land for the construction, but we need to wait for the state agreement to formally start the project”.

The agreement he refers to is the plan of incentives the local government should offer to the new project, but since Frabelle already has a processing plant there, negotiations are being difficult.

According to Mr. Navidad, the new tuna processing plant has many attractive factors and advantages for all the three companies:

“For Thai Union and Century Tuna, I would say that fish supply and the fact that in order to have fishing licenses issued by PNG you have to process the fish there, played an important role in their decision. In addition, they realized that this is a new business itself, maybe it will also supply their fishing requirements, but the major reason for this investment is the good market perspective in the EU and the good domestic market in the Pacific.”

In his opinion, Frabelle will gain great knowledge from two of the greatest tuna processors in the world. 

“Frabelle has always been in tuna fishing, and when we started the processing business we realized that there’s still a lot to learn. When the two “big boys” in processing decided to become partners with us, we concluded that there wasn’t a better way to increase our knowledge. (…) The new plant will be a very big facility, an overwhelming management challenge for us.”