While Papua New Guinea’s economy has slowed in the past year, many of the country’s manufacturers continue to see growth as the longer-term trend, and are investing in new plant, new products and new marketing approaches.
With many inputs imported from overseas, the decline in the value of the kina in the second half of 2013 increased many manufacturers’ costs. Indeed, Manufacturers Council of PNG Chief Executive Officer Chey Scovell described the weaker kina as a ‘real kick in the guts’ for local manufacturers.
‘We’ve seen a flattening off of rice imports over the last four months,’ observed Gregory Worthington-eyre, Chief Executive Officer of Trukai Industries, at the end of 2013, although he noted it’s ‘still 30% up on what it was five years ago’.
‘Business and demand across our manufactured products and imported industrial equipment is significantly down on previous years,’ confirms Michael Kingston, General Manager of Lae-based industrial and household supplies manufacturer, K K Kingston.
New products and plants
The company ‘returned to our core business’ in 2013, Kingston says, but it will still be bringing at least six new products to market in 2014, an initiative that has required significant investment.
Meanwhile, food manufacturer Goodman Fielder is about to finalise the construction of a brand new snack plant in Lae, consolidating its manufacturing sites in that city into one location.
Other companies to open significant new plants in Lae (PNG’S industrial hub) in the past year include meat processor Prima Smallgoods and fish-canning joint venture Majestic Seafoods.
Chicken producer Tablebirds, part of the Mainland Holdings, is currently certifying its processing plant to meet international standards.
Another local food manufacturer, Paradise Foods, is building a major new bottling plant in the city, as part of its ongoing plans to re-launch the Pepsi-cola drink brand in PNG.
PNG’S major brewer, S P Brewery, is also upgrading its Lae and Port Moresby plants, based on increased consumer demand.
‘If you don’t replace equipment every now and again, it becomes inefficient. So there are efficiency gains, there’s a greater diversity of products and of packaging configurations,’ says General Manager, Stan Joyce.