June 1, 2021
Filipino-owned global firm Frabelle Fishing Corp. (FFC) has expressed interest in putting up tuna canning facilities in India as an expansion of Filipino companies’ already existing overseas canning operations in Papua New Guinea,
Speaking before the first virtual India Philippines Marine fisheries & Aquatic Business Conference (IPM-ABC), FFC President Francisco Tiu Laurel said India is a very prospective site for putting up canning facilities with its availability of tuna raw material.
“It is quite interesting for me to note that India has a potential of 230,000 metric tons of tuna annually of which 40% is skipjack and the rest is big eye and yellowfin. That’s something worth looking into by way of putting up the facility or at least buy more materials to feed existing Filipino-owned factories around the western and central Pacific,” said Tiu at the IPM-ABC.
Filipino companies are unique in a way that these have the fleet to catch the fish and the plant to process and can the fish. The biggest volume, 86%, is canned in pouch, and 14%, is in tuna loins.
“In the 1960s, boats were a lot smaller now. Now we compete with world’s best with purse seine large fishing vessels,” he said during the IPM-ABC co-organized by the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food (PCAFI).
FFC is into deep-sea fishing, aquaculture, canning, food manufacturing, processing, food importation and trading, cold storage, shipyard operations, wharf development, real estate development, and power generation.
Since Filipino-owned companies already operate canning facilities overseas, it can further just expand to India whose available tuna supply can be processed right where the fish is caught. Filipino-owned tuna companies have existing canning plants in Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, and Indonesia.
Another expansion option, Tiu said, under this India-Philippines cooperation is for Filipino companies to expand their fleet and fish around India’s fishing ground. That is if they are permitted.
“We are willing to expand our tuna fleet where we are welcome to fish.That’s something quite encouraging to look at in India. The Philippines will be willing to invest as long as they’re are allowed to fish– if that’s possible,” said Tiu.
Frabelle is a world-class fishing company. It runs a fleet of over 100 vessels.The company employs 5,000 people. Its markets for seafood are Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South Africa, and the United States.
The Philippines exports the large chunk of 90% of its tuna production mainly to the European Union, 60% (where it enjoys preferential duty); United States, 40%; and to the Middle East, Japan and Australia, a combined 26%. Only 8-11% is marketed locally.
PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto said expansion of the country’s fishery sector arising from the trade cooperation between India and the Philippines is expected to improve the lives of Filipino fishermen who depend on fishing for their livelihood.
“The fisheries sector provides employment to over 1.6 million people, 85% of whom were from the municipal fisheries and 1% from commercial fisheries, while the aquaculture sector employed 14%,” said Fausto.
“The Philippine fishing industry contributed around 2% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 15% of the total Philippine agriculture output “
Indian fishery authorities who attended the IPM-ABC said there are huge opportunities for value addition in India’s fishery sector.
“Tuna has great investment opportunity in India. We recognize the Philippines as a world leader in tuna processing. You come to India and directly invest,” said Cherian Cherian Kurian, managing director of India’s M/s HIC ABF Special Foods.
“The Indian government announced a policy to exploit these resources. Today we do canning in India, but volume is so low.”
Tuna is the Philippines’ biggest seafood export with value of $300 to $400 million yearly.
With the successful virtual business conference co-organized too by the Indian Embassy in the Philippines, Indian Ambassador Shambhu S. Kumaran said both agencies will host other conferences that will benefit both countries’ agriculture subsectors. Among the next business conference may be on the dairy and livestock sectors. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)