NAUTISCO'S seafood processing factory in Sihanoukville will begin exports in September, nine months later than originally scheduled, said factory president Sam Peou. He blamed the delay on technical issues and sub-contractors.
"The construction process has been slowed down," he told the Post by email, adding that construction is now in its final stage, with the first hire of 130 staff and workers due to start training on August 3.He said another 100 people would be added to the payroll once the first employees are fully trained.
"Hopefully we'll be able to export around mid-September," he said.
"The quality control management training process for workers can prove a challenge for the first one to two months, but once we have achieved the quality standard we anticipate, we'll export."
He said between 100 and 200 tonnes of shrimp would be sent monthly to Japan, Canada, the United States, Russia and Eastern Europe.
Sam Peou, a joint Cambodian-Canadian citizen, said supply of shrimp is a key concern.
"Raw material prices are one of the main factors in determining daily production outputs. Shortages of raw materials could be a result of processors not willing to pay higher prices for raw materials," he said.
"Therefore, we need to work with our supplier in order to be more cost-efficient and establish a win-win position for all sides."
He said raw unprocessed shrimp costs between US$1,500 and $4,500 a tonne depending on quality, and the processed product sells for between $10,000 and $25,000 a tonne depending on the size of the shrimps and whether or not they are cooked.
No government backing
The government has already shot down the idea of encouraging the development of shrimp farms in its waters.
In an interview last September, fisheries department director Nao Thouk said the government has no plans to promote shrimp farming because the end result would be the destruction of mangrove forests to clear space for shrimp farms.
At the time Nao Thouk said daily shrimp catches from the sea total between five and ten tonnes. He said fewer than 100 families raise shrimp, and their harvests generate only around 100 tonnes in total annually.
Nautisco's $4 million plant is located on five hectares of land in O'tres commune in Preah Sihanouk province. It will have the capacity to process 30 tonnes of shrimp daily, the company said.