PAFCO’s new $16.4m cold storage facility opens

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama with Iqbal Janiff the PAFCO chairman during the opening of the new freezer today. Picture: ATU RASEA

A $16.4 million new cold storage facility for Pacific Fishing Company Ltd (PAFCO) was opened today in Levuka co-funded through loans from Government and an international canned seafood giant.

The new cold storage facility was opened by Fijian Prime Minsiter Voreqe Bainimarama at the country’s old capital marking another bold step by Government in supporting  PAFCO and the local tuna industry.

The $16.4m facility is co-funded through a $9m Government loan, a $6m loan from Bumble Bee – one of one of North America’s largest canned seafood companies, and a contribution of $1.4m from PAFCO.

According to Mr Bainimarama, the crucial investment in the new cold storage facility would greatly bolster PAFCO’s storage capacity, increasing the amount of raw tuna it can hold from 3,000 to 4,000 metric tonnes.

“With this new cold storage facility, PAFCO is expected to increase production by 10 per cent each year,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“Today, the normal daily production is 80 metric tonnes, or, in terms of whole fish, around 6,400 fish per day.

“With more fish in stock, PAFCO will be able to increase production when it’s needed most. The cost of maintaining the old cold storage facility, averaging around 100,000 dollars each year, will now be a thing of the past.”

Mr Bainimarama said these cost savings, paired with the financial benefits of increased production and more efficient storage, would be felt at every level of the company, as PAFCO will be in a better position to invest back into its infrastructure and its people, creating even more jobs for the people of Lomaiviti.

Government had also previously supported the company’s request for a Government Guarantee of $11.3m for a loan that is being utilised for factory renovations and upgrades, which was subsequently approved by Parliament in 2015.

It also allocated $1.7m in the 2017/2018 Budget for the repair of PAFCO’s seawall, which was destroyed by Tropical Cyclone Winston in 2016.

This work is in progress and is expected to be completed by mid-October.