Rainforest Seafoods plant expects to be running by September
The Rainforest Seafoods fish processing plant being built in Calliaqua is expected to be up and running by September, in time for lobster season.
This, despite the halt of a few months that had been placed on construction in 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves told a Chamber of Industry and Commerce virtual discussion on the 2021 Budget that the investors, who are spending EC$10 million to construct the facility are optimistic about getting the project up and running before year end.
Gonsalves said he spoke with Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Rainforest Seafoods Brian Jardim earlier this month and it was said that they had expected to complete the foundation by February 15, but were about two and a half weeks behind.
He said although the scheduled has been revised, Jardim believes they can make up the time.
“But if they don’t make it up, you are looking at a mid-September early October opening for Rainforest Seafoods, but he (Jardim) believes that they will still be opening in September for the start of the lobster season,” Gonsalves said.
The Jamaican seafood company has projected annual seafood purchases from local fisherfolk amounting to EC$20 million, the minister said.
He said COVID-19 has caused a halt in the company’s income as the sale of lobster in the far east and to hotels in the region had stopped, while there were also logistical challenges relating to China and Hong Kong at the height of the pandemic.
“That also slowed them down…the main work that is being done now, even though it doesn’t look like much, is the foundation work,” Gonsalves explained, while adding that the building is a steel set-up that is assembled like “Lego” and the frame is already in the country and the panels en-route from China.
“So it goes up fast and they are optimistic that they can still get it built and equipped by September,” Gonsalves said.
The facility is being built to European Union (EU) standards and will make Rainforest Seafoods the largest single Caribbean exporter in the world.
The company is already the largest seafood exporter in the Caribbean with 30 markets including Japan and Greece. The company is hoping to buy, on a large scale, live lobster, conch, sea cucumber and other fresh seafood.