Solomon Islands tuna firm expands operations


Solomon Islands’ major tuna producer Soltuna (formerly known by the name Soltai) plans to bump up production by at least 20 per cent by the end of the year. <!--more--><a href=""><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-3075" title="Tuna" src="" alt="" width="138" height="104" /></a>The firm exports between 4500 and 5000 metric tonnes of tuna loins to international markets every year, earning up to US$6800 a metric tonne. It also has a range of canned products for the domestic and regional markets. One of its renowned brands is ‘Solomon Blue.’

Solomon Islands is one of the leading countries in the tuna industry that produces some of the best tuna products that well-known internationally. Sontuna’s canned products sales have grown from 221,151 cartons in 2010 to 438,248 cartons last year and this year up to July, the production stands at 302,858 cartons with the company expecting to close the year at some 562,000 cartons. The firm has recently undergone reorganisation and aims to regain its one time 100 per cent share of the country’s market.

In recent years, the decline in the erstwhile Soltai’s operations has coincided with the flooding of the domestic market with imported tuna products eating into its market share, which the rejigging has now helped shore up to 90 per cent. The company needs to put in place a number of measures to increase production to meet the increasing demand of the market. According to marketing manager Kenwood Harry that would mean an increase of production by at least 30 per cent this year.

Mr Harry says Soltuna is working hard to go beyond its current regional markets of Papua New Guinea and Fiji, and expand into the Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific states.

“We wanted to satisfy our regional markets first before moving on to the European and US markets, because these markets are very competitive. Therefore the company needs to rebrand its premium products to compete in the international markets,” Mr Harry told media in the Solomon Islands.

Some of the challenges that the company faces are common to several manufacturers and distributors across the region: “Poor and irregular shipping services between Honiara and Noro [where the company has its major factory] and to other islands in the country is a major problem especially to try and meet the customers demand on time,” Mr Harry says.