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Frabelle PNG Plans Expansion Beyond Tuna Processing Papua New Guinea, November 8, 13

Lae-based Frabelle Fishing Corporation has big expansion plans, the company has a program of investment that will see six of its 20 PNG-flagged catcher boats replaced over the next two years and the construction of a new wharf.

“This means we are much more efficient with unloading our catch, missing out a few steps,’ Johnston tells Business Advantage PNG. ’The second wharf will commence construction in the new year.’

Boosting tuna output will also require replacing old equipment.

“We’re doing major improvements in the factory,’ says general manager Johnston of his facility in Lae.

“In every area, we’re changing something to make it more viable—conveyor systems, new packing systems, new labelling systems. Because the processing plant is seven years old, it’s time for an upgrade.

“We put in a new blast freezer that’s going to double our output of frozen lines. There’s a new 500-tonne cold room being finished off now. That’s at minus 35 [degrees Celsius], not at minus 25, because the colder you can keep yellow fin the better the yellow fin stays.’

Frabelle also now has a 300-tonne storage area for all its sunflower, olive and soya bean oils.

The next stage will be to build a second 3,000 tonne freezer. It will store ‘rawpacks’: single-cooked fish which customers can put on salads or eat straight away.

“That’s a separate market,” explains Johnston. “It only goes to France and Germany at this time.”

Frabelle is the only plant in PNG that currently does this. It also exports stockfeed and chickenfeed to the region.

Diversification is the name of Frabelle’s game. As well as the involvement with Majestic Seafoods, Johnston has also been talking to local governments around the country to set up co-operatives to bring coral and reef fish from places like Kavieng or Manus to Lae for on-selling.

The company is also looking beyond fish processing: it is one of the tenderers for the new power station in Lae and has installed a biomass boiler in Lae for which it will be buying coconut shell for fuel.