SUNBIZ

PAFCO, The Golden Egg Of Levuka

While some parts of Fiji are feeling the brunt of COVID-19, PAFCO’s operations are in full swing, 24/7. The economic benefits are felt throughout Levuka as people are going about their daily activities.
24 Oct 2020 15:45
PAFCO, The Golden Egg Of Levuka
The Pacific Fishing Company Pte Limited (PAFCO) modern facility and container yard in Levuka. Photo: Maraia Vula

Staff of Pacific Fishing Company Pte Limited (PAFCO) in Levuka consider themselves lucky.

Why? Because they still have jobs and PAFCO a modern tuna cannery is churning the economy of not only Levuka but the Lomaiviti Group.

While some parts of Fiji are feeling the brunt of COVID-19, PAFCO’s operations are in full swing, 24/7. The economic benefits are felt throughout Levuka as people are going about their daily activities.

Under the leadership of PAFCO board chairman Ikbal Jannif, board members Bupen Khatri, Tui Levuka, Ratu Etonia Seru, newly appointed board members Fay Yee and Mahmood Khan, things have turned around and look positive.

Tuna supplier, Bumble Bee Seafoods has secured enough fish to keep PAFCO busy till the end of the year.

Bumble Bee Seafoods was recently bought by a Taiwanese company, FCF (Fong Chun Formosa Fishery Company).

PAFCO has a processing agreement with Bumble Bee.

Part of it is that Bumble Bee actually buys the tuna and supplies it to PAFCO.

PAFCO does an intermediate process where they cook the tuna and convert it into loins which are exported to the US.

Bumble Bee has a buying agent in Suva. They have contracted fishing vessels that supply tuna to them.

With FCF’s involvement, things look good for PAFCO, especially with the quick turnaround.

Bumble Bee Seafoods General Manager Operations in Fiji, Brett Carter said: “PAFCO and Bumble Bee have an excellent relationship dating back to 1999.

“Recently we signed another 10 year agreement, reinforcing our commitment to Levuka.

“COVID-19 has been disruptive to the restaurant and food service Worldwide and has resulted in more Albacore tuna being available for Bumble Bee to capitalise on.

“As a result PAFCO will run double shifts through to year end shutdown.

“Bumble Bee and PAFCO are in discussion to expand the loining species to counter low season Albacore supplies.”

 

Increase in tuna receipts

Fish receipts have gone up since July and it looks like they will end the year on a high note.

It is understood that PAFCO is producing 120 tons of tuna a day.

With two operational shifts, the first  from 6:30am to 4pm and the second shift from 4pm to 1:30am.

Transport is provided by PAFCO. This is expected to continue for another couple of weeks.

Over the last few months, there have been a number of people who have gone back to Levuka from other places in Fiji and some of them have applied for

held and have been employed as casual workers on a need basis at PAFCO.

Some are known to be former tourism workers and former Fiji Airways cabin crew.

Mr Jannif had earlier highlighted that PAFCO had hired some casual workers but they have not replaced any local residents, who have worked or are working at PAFCO.

In an interview with Mr Khatri, a well respected Levuka businessman, he said Levuka has been blessed with PAFCO.

“We are fortunate that whilst many areas in Fiji are feeling the brunt of COVID-19, Levuka has been spared.

“For the first time, PAFCO has been running two shifts for a longer period than usual.

“With the current operation, one shift has almost 600 staff working.

“But with these two shifts our numbers have gone up to just under 900.

“And this has boosted other businesses, as a result of the flow on effect of the current operations.

“We’ve had to hire more staff for unloading and loading and outsource transportation to accommodate the current operations at PAFCO.

“We’ve had a good run this year.

“Tuna is the chicken of the sea.

“PAFCO’s main export market is to the United States where tuna is maybe one of the staple food items.” The loining facility at PAFCO caters for Bumble Bee’s A grade loins.

“The art of cleaning and skinning the fish is a unique skill that requires special training.

“The end product from this facility ready to be shipped to the US is cooked albacore frozen loins.”

He noted while a mothership Shin Ho Chun No 102,  berthed at PAFCO’s port, this vessel would stay up to three weeks, just offloading tuna.

“So we have a much bigger capacity to hold the tuna.

“With production on double shift, they’re trying to get finished products to go out to create more room.

“So it’s a simultaneous production cycle, more fish is coming out of the freezer for the finished goods while more are being offloaded for storage.”

 

PAFCO canning facility.

The canning facility is used for producing Tuna products that are sold locally at major supermarkets and exported to some countries in the region by Punja & Sons Ltd.

Hangton Pacific Ltd is one tuna supplier.

The finished canned products are:

  • Sunbell Red
  • Ovalau Blue Premium
  • Ovalau Blue in Chilli
  • Sunbell Yellow
  • Koro Sea Tuna Flakes
  • Albacore PAFCO Old Capital Premium

 

In 2018, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama  opened PAFCO’s $16.4 million new cold storage facility.PM Bainimarama also thanked the workers of PAFCO for their hard work and dedication, their grit and determination which had made the massive investment possible.

He added that while leadership and support was important, the Government recognises that above all else, the greatest asset to a company are the workers.

Feedback:  maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

 



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