THE Pacific Fisheries Company (PAFCO) is willing to spend millions of dollars to cart its products overseas but the tuna cannery will not re-locate to Viti Levu.
That is the message from Colonel Etuweni Caucau, the company's human resource manager. He met the media two weeks ago during a tour of the plant in Levuka Town.
The company employs 882 people and this year marks the 50th anniversary of its operation.
"There was a thought to relocate PAFCO to Savusavu or Lautoka and that would mean the removal of $4million earned from the island and economy of Ovalau," he said.
"And we thank the government for supporting us — we are still here in Levuka."
The company spends about $300,000 a month in workers' wages and, as one of the main employers in the Lomaiviti Province, PAFCO has helped in Levuka's economic growth.
"About 70 per cent of the workforce are women from Ovalau and other islands in the province."
He said workers at the factory come from almost all the villages on the island of Ovalau.
"95 per cent of the products from PAFCO is conveyed to the US economy, while the remaining 5 per cent is sold locally."
Since the company started its operation in 1963, Col. Caucau said it has diversified its operation in 2007 and now produces and sells fish meal, which could soon become a stand-alone product.
"We have other products like fish meal and fish oil and we also sell sardines," he said.
Fish meal is mostly bought by yaqona farmers as organic fertiliser and is readily available for farmers on Ovalau.
Col. Caucau said the company faced many challenges such as road closures and traditional obligations of the villagers which affected the workforce at PAFCO.
Government owns the majority shares in PAFCO, which is in partnership with US-based Bumble Bee Foods.