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By Alfredo P. Herhandez

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Sept. 22) - RD
Tuna Canners, the country's pioneer in tuna canning, generated export sales of
US$23.42 million last year, nine times more than exports in 1997, its first year
of operation.

During the company's initial year of production, export revenue
was only US$2.8 million when the volume of canned tuna only filled 61

RDTC, a subsidiary of Philippine-based RD Group, is composed of
18 corporations with interests ranging from tuna fish canning and fishing, prawn
farms, to banking and pawnshop operations.

Figures made available by the company showed that it shipped a
total of 1,132 full container loads (FCL) last year to domestic and
international markets.

Of this, 716 FCL accounted for export shipments, representing 24
per cent of the 2,962 containers shipped out during the year by PNG's entire
manufacturing sector. On a monthly basis, RDTC shipped out an average of 62
containers to various countries.

With duty free entry for Papua New Guinea-produced canned tuna
in the European market, RDTC wants to accelerate an increase in its production

The cannery also hopes to meet a 2,000 metric ton quota it won
in the European market, which it needs to fulfill by the end of 2005 when the
quota agreement would lapse.

To meet increasing demand for its 13 canned tuna products, which
include the popular brand Diana Tuna, RDTC is right now thrashing out with the
landowners in Kananam village some land issues that need to be resolved to pave
the way for the construction of a second cannery.

The proposed cannery would cost at least US$70 million and would
employ about 5,000 workers. The existing cannery located in a 6.5-hectare
property at Siar village, operates with 3,500 workers and processes a daily
average of 120 metric tons of fish.

A company report said that in the five years RDTC operated
between 1997 and 2001, it had produced 1,923 FCLs for export markets with export
sales worth US$71.4m.

Meanwhile, in the domestic market, RDTC's low-priced home brand
Diana has cornered an estimated 65 per cent of the total PNG demand for canned

The Diana brand also boasts of an export market in the
neighboring South Pacific islands.

The report has stressed that, "due to the lively business
of the company, it was able to contribute a big chunk to the Government's dollar
reserves, thus contributing a good share in the stabilization of the kina".

Since 2000 to the first half of 2003, RDTC contributed US$71.4
million to the Government's dollar reserves, the report said.

September 22, 2003

The National:


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