Seeking Vertical Integration, StarKist Buys Am. Samoa Can Plant

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Owner Dongwon ‘committed to the success of StarKist Samoa’

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Nov. 22, 2014) – The can manufacturing plant at Satala is back in the StarKist Co. family after StarKist owner, Dongwon industries purchased the facility for an undisclosed amount of money saying there would be no major changes in current operations.

Reuters news agency reported late last month that Dongwon Systems Corp., a subsidiary of South Korean based Dongwon industries, had acquired 100% of Ardagh Metal Packing American Samoa Inc. — locally known as Ardagh Impress Samoa Inc. Ardagh has a workforce of less than 100 and has been the can supplier for StarKist Samoa.

Reporters at yesterday’s news conference called by StarKist Co., at the StarKist Samoa main office at Satala, where the new chief executive and president Andrew Choe was presented with other company officials, asked for confirmation on the purchase.

Choe replied, "yes" saying that Dongwon took over ownership on Nov. 1 this year and the new name for the plant is Talofa Systems American Samoa Inc.

He said the purchase is another example "of how much we are committed to the success of StarKist Samoa, as a company" and the can plant "will help us be more efficient in our operation."

"We will be more vertically integrated, more efficient and we will be able to respond quicker if there is a need," Choe said, adding that "at this point there are no major changes to operation of the can plant."

Asked about the amount of money Dongwon spent on the acquisition of the can plant, Choe said, "that one, I cannot reveal."

Responding to Samoa News questions, Tri Marine International CEO, Joe Hamby said, "We knew about Dongwon’s purchase of the cant plant". Asked if Tri Marine will use the can plant to supply cans when its Samoa Tuna Processors (STP) Inc., cannery opens in January next year, Hamby replied, "We’ve already fully contracted the can supply for STP from other suppliers."

(See Monday’s edition of Samoa News for more issues covered of the StarKist press conference.)

BACKGROUND

The can plant was previously owned by H.J. Heinz, the former owner of StarKist, which sold the facility in the summer of 2000 to a Dutch company called Impress Inc., calling the plant Impress American Samoa Inc. But in 2011, the plant was purchased by a European company called Ardagh Glass Group, according to Samoa News archives.

Dongwon Systems Corp. has three divisions including a Packing Material Division, which manufactures among many things, flexible packaging materials and high quality cans to pack food, according to the company’s website.

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