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Tri-Marine Samoa Project Delayed, StarKist Accelerates American Samoa, January 21, 13

One tuna competitor is having more luck than the other in American Samoa at the moment: StarKist plans to boost the production of its plant, while Tri-Marine has stalled the construction of its cannery in Atu’u.
Top officials from Tri-Marine and its local company Samoa Tuna Processors, including Joe Hamby, Dan Sullivan and Alfonso Pete Galea’I, met with the territory’s government recently and informed the governor that their new cannery project will take about 15 to 18 months to complete. It had hoped to open the plant in mid 2013 and the delay is due to the longer than expected process of obtaining the required U.S. permit for construction.

Joe Hamby
Meanwhile, StarKist officials also met with American Samoa’s governor last week about creating between 500 and 1000 new jobs at the company’s local plant, the governor’s executive assistant told local media. This growth would be a departure from 2010’s layoffs, when the factory had to cut 800 workers because of higher labor costs and increasing competition from the industry.
The intentions of both Tri-Marine and StarKist to expand their operations in American Samoa comes at a time when Thailand – the world’s largest canned tuna producer – is adjusting to last year’s minimum wage hike, which increased by 40%.
American Samoa’s minimum wage is currently frozen until 2015 and last week, the government said it would offer tax breaks to any business that creates a new job.

Tri-Marine’s new plant will employ about 1,000 people at full production. The company has also invested in a new cold storage facility, which will open in March, and is showing interest in the shipyard at Satala. In total, it plans to invest USD 55 million, in addition to the more than USD 10 million already spent on the cold storage facility.

This past fall, StarKist Samoa also started branching out by shipping to foreign countries for the first time – in the past its canned tuna products were only delivered to the U.S. market. The producer now sends tuna under the label “Cook Islands Golden Tuna” to the Cook Islands and Asian countries.