RAINFOREST SEAFOODS has made its first shipment of conch as it begins operations at its Calliaqua facility.
The shipment, which filled a 20-foot container left at about 11.30 a.m bound for Florida.
The conch was sourced entirely from Vincentian artisanal fisherfolk and then processed and packed by Rainforest’s team of 80 employees.
The company’s Chief Executive Officer and Regional Business Development Manager, Brian Jardim speaking on their first shipment from the St. Vincent facility said: “This shipment is a major milestone for the Rainforest team. After construction delays as a result of the pandemic, we are excited to have this facility up and running, and now exporting products abroad.
“This is just the beginning as we are actively seeking new markets around the globe for Vincentian seafood which has proven to be highly sought-after for its quality and sustainability. We are very optimistic about what the future holds and pleased with our ongoing investment in St. Vincent (and the Grenadines).”
Commenting via a Facebook post on Tuesday March 15, 2022, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Information Technology Camillo Gonsalves, wrote: “After just a few weeks of operation, local fishers have already received over $1 million from Rainforest Seafoods.”
With about 80 employees currently on its payroll, Gonsalves pointed out in his Facebook post that “… they’re not yet up to full speed.”
The facility in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is a state-of-the-art seafood processing plant which was completed in January 2022, and contains a 250,000lbs cold storage unit, blast freezers, and processing rooms along with innovative equipment, “that will allow for at-source retail packaging ensuring that product presentation appeals to international markets.”
Gonsalves called on “all local fishers and investors to take advantage of the rapid expansions in our market for seafood. Attractive concessions are available for investors.”
He added that the Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar “has crafted an innovative programme with KCCU (Kingstown Co-operative Credit Union) Ltd., to finance boats and upgrades for fisherfolk, and many other production supports are available to fishers.”
Rainforest CEO, Jardim also expressed gratitude to the Rainforest St Vincent team, “who have worked assiduously to make this conch shipment happen, and to the fisherfolk from across St Vincent and the Grenadines with whom Rainforest has built strong partnerships.”
The Rainforest Calliaqua facility has already begun to process lobster, conch, and a variety of fin-fish. The company is headquartered in Jamaica and has satellite operations in Belize, St Lucia, and most recently St Vincent and the Grenadines. Rainforest Seafoods currently employs more than 900 people across the region, and exports its range of products to more 30 countries.
The impact of Rainforest Seafoods on the local economy is expected to broaden. According to Invest SVG, Rainforest Seafoods will support capacity building among local fisherfolk with the Government of SVG providing support by way of boats and fishing equipment to enable the fisherfolk to take advantage of new markets for their harvests.