Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Rainforest adds processing plant in Belize

Published:Friday | November 25, 2016 | 11:00 AM

Rainforest Seafoods has invested US$2 million in a seafood processing plant in Belize.

The facility, launched on November 17, ramps up the Jamaican company's operations in that market, where, Rainforest said, it has had a presence for 18 years.

Products processed at the plant will be shipped to countries in the Caribbean but not to Jamaica, where a similar, but more advanced, plant has already been established, product development manager at Rainforest Seafoods Maxwell Jardim told the Financial Gleaner.

Rainforest also has a presence in Barbados and St Lucia, where it has distribution firms.

Rainforest said it entered Belize after discovering that the southern section of the island was a source of quality seafood - which led, over time, to the company becoming the largest purveyor of that country's seafood throughout the Caribbean.

The company said that seven years ago, it established its commitment to Belize when it built a fish plant and in 2014 acquired a 1,500-acre shrimp farm, Bel Euro.

The new processing plant spans 10,000 square feet, with cold storage capacity of 150,000 pounds, several blast freezers and processing rooms along with state-of-the-art equipment that allows for at-source retail packaging.

"Rainforest exports Belizean seafood throughout the Caribbean, the US, Singapore, and Taiwan and is actively seeking to gain a foothold in new markets throughout Europe," said the company in a statement about the investment.

It will process a range of seafood, including conch, deep-water fish, and sea cucumbers, given the capacity of the plant. The company currently employs 35 Belizeans at the plant.

"With its high-quality, sustainable seafood, Belize is a critical component of Rainforest's strategic plans for continued vertical integration and our vision to be a regional seafood leader with global reach," said Rainforest CEO Brian Jardim in the statement.

Rainforest Seafoods, which employs more than 600 persons across the Caribbean, said that it remains bullish about the region and that its regional expansion would continue with the develop-ment of a similar value-added facility in St Vincent and the Grenadines in the third quarter of 2017.

mcpherse.thompson@gleanerjm.com