Rainforest Seafoods CEO Brian Jardim, alongside Prime Minister Gonsalves, signed the agreement on Wednesday, April 10 at the newly constructed Argyle International Airport.
The company will invest EC$10 million on a 30,000 square foot, value-added processing plant which will feature 250,000 lbs of cold storage, blast freezers and processing rooms, along with state-of-the-art equipment that will allow for at-source retail packaging — ensuring that product presentation appeals to international markets.
The facility, slated to be completed in 18 months, will have the capability to process live and frozen lobster, conch, sea cucumber, and a wide range of fin-fish, according to a recent news release.
The company has already begun to meet with contractors with a view to breaking ground very soon, the release said.
Rainforest currently exports seafood to more than 30 countries across the world. The Calliaqua plant’s proximity to the Argyle International Airport will be critical for exporting live and fresh seafood to international markets.
Jardim offered special thanks to Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Saboto Caesar for his efforts in bringing the project to reality.
“With its high-quality, sustainable seafood, St Vincent and the Grenadines is a critical component of Rainforest’s strategic plans for continued vertical integration and our vision to be a regional seafood leader with global reach,” Jardim said.
Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves lauded the company for its plans to invest in St Vincent and thanked the Rainforest team for partnering with the Vincentian fishing community.
“Mr Jardim and Rainforest Seafoods have indicated their commitment to the community and the livelihoods of the fisherfolk from whom they buy. Rainforest Seafoods has experience and expertise doing this, so we look forward to an abbreviated and accelerated construction schedule so we can get this plant up and running. Rainforest Seafoods is going to transform Calliaqua, it’s going to transform the fishery sector, and it will transform the lives of scores of, if not more, fisherfolk in St Vincent and the Grenadines,” the finance minister said.
Dr Gonsalves echoed the minister’s sentiments whilst describing the critical infrastructure his government has put in place to attract overseas investment, including the construction of a sophisticated international airport, ongoing investment in geothermal energy, and security measures to protect the island nation’s extensive territorial waters.
Rainforest Seafoods is the Caribbean’s leading seafood supplier, with headquarters in Jamaica and satellite operations in Belize and St Lucia.
The operation in St Vincent and the Grenadines will be Rainforest’s fourth location as it continues on its Caribbean expansion thrust.
Rainforest Seafoods currently employs more than 750 people across the region and plans to directly employ another 75 people in St Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as partner with hundreds of Vincentian fisherfolk.