Mon | Jun 17, 2019

Rainforest outlines major investment in St Vincent and the Grenadines

Published:Monday | April 22, 2019 | 12:17 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor

Western Bureau:

Seafood processor Rainforest Seafoods has signed an agreement with the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines to develop a state-of-the-art seafood-processing facility in Calliaqua, St Vincent.

The agreement for the project, which is valued at EC$10 million, was signed by Brian Jardim, chief executive officer, and Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, last Wednesday in St Vincent and the Grenadines. It will feature a 30,000-square-foot value-added processing plant, which will house 250,000lbs of cold storage, blast freezers, and processing rooms, along with state-of-the-art equipment to allow for at-source retail packaging.

The facility, which is slated to be completed in 18 months, will be able to process live and frozen lobster, conch, sea cucumber and a wide range of fin fish. The company has started meeting with contractors with a view to breaking ground very soon.

Rainforest currently exports seafood to more than 30 countries across the world. The Calliaqua facility, which is in proximity to the Argyle International Airport, will be critical to exporting live and fresh seafood to international markets.

“With its high-quality, sustainable seafood, St Vincent and the Grenadines 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 Jardim.

Saboto Caesar, St Vincent and the Grenadines’ minister of agriculture and fisheries, expressed gratitude to Rainforest for partnering with the Vincentian fishing community, noting his appreciation for their commitment to help the local fisherfolk with whom they will do business.

“Rainforest Seafoods has indicated their commitment to the community and the livelihoods of the fisherfolk from whom they buy. Rainforest Seafoods has experience and expertise doing this, so we look forward to an abbreviated and accelerated construction schedule so we can get this plant up and running,” said Caesar.

“Rainforest Seafoods is going to transform Calliaqua, it’s going to transform the fishery sector, and it will transform the lives of scores of, if not more, fisherfolk in St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

Overseas investment

Gonsalves hailed the investment, declaring it an important chapter in his government’s drive to attract overseas investment, including the construction of a sophisticated international airport, and the ongoing investment in geothermal energy, and security measures to protect the island nation’s extensive territorial waters.

The operation in St Vincent and the Grenadines will be Rainforest’s fourth location as it continues on its Caribbean expansion thrust. Rainforest Seafoods currently employs more than 750 people across the region and plans to directly employ another 75 persons in St Vincent and the Grenadines, and partner with hundreds of Vincentian fisherfolk.