Fra­belle plans ex­pan­sion beyond tuna pro­cess­ing

Made in PNG - - FISHERIES -

Lae-based Fra­belle Fish­ing Cor­po­ra­tion is one of the ma­jor part­ners be­hind the Ma­jes­tic Seafood ven­ture, which opened in 2013. But Fra­belle’s Gen­eral Man­ager James John­ston says the com­pany has big ex­pan­sion plans of its own, too.

Fra­belle is one of three joint-ven­ture part­ners in Ma­jes­tic Seafoods, the new tuna-pro­cess­ing plant that was opened in Mala­hang, near Lae in June 2013 (see page 16).

While tuna from the joint ven­ture can­nery will be sold by Ma­jes­tic, pri­mar­ily to the Euro­pean Union, Fra­belle it­self will con­cen­trate on sell­ing to the lo­cal PNG mar­ket, through lo­cal whole­saler, Seeto Kui.

At the same time, Fra­belle 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 said. A sec­ond wharf will com­mence con­struc­tion early in 2014.

New equip­ment

Boost­ing tuna out­put will also re­quire the re­place­ment of old equip­ment.

‘We’re do­ing ma­jor im­prove­ments in the fac­tory,’ says 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.

New prod­ucts for ex­port

The next stage will be to build a sec­ond 3,000 tonne freezer. It will store ‘raw­packs’: sin­gle-cooked fish that 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

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. All this is done with­out much fan­fare, which is the way John­ston likes it.

‘In ev­ery area, we’re chang­ing some­thing to

make it more vi­able’

Some of Fra­belle’s Is­abella range of canned tuna.

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