Employees of Samoa Tuna Processors are learning that the cannery is suspending operations indefinitely December 11 due to “adverse business conditions” .
The $70 million cannery was officially opened in January of last year, but only started production a few months later because of delayed shipping due to industrial action on the west coast .
The closure would put close to 1,000 workers out of jobs and send ripple effects throughout the community and also Samoa where the majority of production employees are from.
Renato Curto, CEO of the Tri Marine Group said in a statement, “This is an incredibly difficult decision and one we make with a great deal of reluctance.
“Our hearts go out to STP’s employees, suppliers, service providers and everyone else who depends on STP’s operations.”
The statement said the challenging economics of canning tuna in American Samoa combined with external factors facing STP make Tri Marine’s private-label focused business model for operating the plant economically unsustainable in today’s market.
Tri Marine is currently evaluating alternatives for the facility including outright sale, preferably to a strategic buyer that would minimize job losses.
Before the production plant was opened, STP was exporting fresh frozen fish to markets in the US and Japan..
Curto said though they are suspending canning operations, Tri Marine will continue to operate STP as a logistics hub for the Tri Marine Group.
“Unfortunately, this will mean a much reduced labor force.
“Our focus at this time is to ease this transition for our employees and to readjust so we can continue to deliver the same high-quality product our customers expect from us.”
The company statement said, “Tri Marine is well-structured to meet its commitments to US-based customers through the company’s network.”
KHJ News understands that Governor Lolo Moliga has been informed of the closure.
Emails to his Executive Assistant Iulogologo Joseph Pereira last night were not answered.
Two weeks ago after StarKist Samoa announced it was closing for a week due mainly to inadequate fish supplies, Tri Marine said they “are carefully considering fish supply shortages and other market challenges at this time.”