Rainforest to expand, goes solar in Montego Bay
Having equipped its Montego Bay plant with a 0.33-megawatt solar-energy system, Rainforest Seafoods says it will next be expanding the complex later this year.
Chief Executive Officer Brian Jardim made the announcement last Thursday during the official commissioning of the new solar system.
"This installation is the first step in the expansion of the company's Freeport facility. Our plan includes doubling the footprint of our successful Seafood Market bistro and tripling our production and warehousing capacity to allow for the processing of a wide range of local products, including lobster, crab, conch, and finfish," Jardim said.
Rainforest plans to pump US$10 million into the expansion of its headquarters. It expects to add 200 jobs.
"With our proximity to Sangster International Airport, we will be well positioned to export both live and fresh seafood products, which are in high demand in many overseas markets," said Jardim.
Going green, while expanding, goes hand in hand for the seafood supplier, which now exports to countries such as Singapore, mainland China, and the English-speaking Caribbean.
Its investment in solar amounted to US$1.5 million.
The company says its aim is to cut energy costs and drive competitiveness. In the last year, the seafood supplier says it has reduced its monthly electricity bill from $20 million to $11 million.
Jardim said a 0.5MW solar system was installed at Rainforest's Kingston processing plant last May.
Now, he expects to cut the electricity bill at the Montego Freeport plant by a quarter of the current charges.
"We currently pay approxi-mately $3.5 million per month to the JPS in MoBay. We should save about three-quarters of a million dollars with the new solar-energy system," Jardim said.
The money saved will be pumped into the company's growth plans, particularly in the export of Jamaican lobster, conch, and the Rainforest Ready line of value-added products,
The Montego Bay solar project was executed in partnership with Conserve It and consultant Paul Stockhausen.
"We were able to install more than 1,200 solar panels and inverters in a record three months," said Ernie Grant, general manager at Rainforest.
Minister of Energy, Science and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley, who participated in last Thursday's commissioning ceremony, said Rainforest joins a burgeoning group of private-sector companies that have seen the need to incorporate renewable energy into their business models and who have the full support of his ministry.
Rainforest, which sprang up in Montego Bay in 1995, now distributes more than 400 types of fish, shellfish, and a variety of seafood products.