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Manpower Shortage Slows Down Expansion Of Soltuna Solomon Islands, August 21, 12

Soltuna company has planned to increase its production by the end of year says its financial manager Frank Lao.
Speaking to pacific journalists at Noro over the weekend, Lao said the company is looking to increasing its production from its current 80 metric tons per day to between 100 and 120 metric tons by the end of year to meet its market demand.
“We hope to increase our daily production to meet the increasing demand for tuna loins and canned products in the international markets,” Lao said.
Soltuna’s annual production of tuna loins to international markets is between 4500 to 5000 metric tons.
According to Mr. Lao the current international market fish price of yellow fin is USD 2100 (SBD$14, 800) per metric ton and loin cost between USD 6500 (SBD$45, 800) to USD 6800 (SBD$48,000) per metric ton.
“Demand for our tuna loins is high and the company wishes to grasp that market demand,” Lao said.

However he added that the company could not meet this increasing demand due to man-power problem the company is faced with.

Adding this was due to high labor turnover and bad attitude towards work which really affects the steady flow of company operations.

Operations manager John Pina added that it is very difficult for the company to increase its production since they are handicapped with the manpower to push that production output to 100 or 120 metric tons per day.

Pina said the attitude of employees to work is another factor which resulted in high absenteeism and work force turn over.

When asked what is the main cause of this problem, Administration Manager Aseri Kukui admits it’s a very difficult issue for the company.

Kukui said the change in people’s mindset and attitude to work will not change overtime.

“We cannot take this lightly because people knew what it was like working under the past regime (Solomon Taiyo). And to experience working under a new management is challenging as employees will then compare working conditions, incentives and benefits which acts as a ruler for them.

“This is the bottom line of this issue and people will need time to build their confidence in the new management and value their contribution to the company.

“But we are hopeful that we will make improvements and slowly bring back the confidence and trust of our employees,” Mr. Kukui said.

Soltuna is currently exporting 90% of loin tuna to its European and US markets. Thirty containers weighing 25 metric tons are exported each month.

A metric ton of loin is sold at USD 6,000 for yellow fin tuna giving annual estimated revenue of USD 2 million.

Canned tuna products accounts for 90% of its domestic market and 10% to its overseas market. Despite high market demand for canned tuna, the company management at this stage said to prioritize the exportation of tuna loins.

However the company’s financial manager said if the company can increase its production to 100 or to its maximum of 150 metric tons per day, that will definitely boost the revenue to over USD 3m (SBD$21m).

“Since 2010, the company is running at a loss, but we will try our best to change the situation in due course,” Lao stressed.

The company’s annual financial statement as of July this year saw the company running at a loss of SBD$8 million loss.

Meanwhile Managing Director Adrian Wickham highlighted that there is a lot yet to be done as currently they are investing on factory equipments to boast their production.