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SAILing to new horizons

Article - January 26, 2012
Leading fisheries firm seeks partners to fund further expansion and diversification
The fisheries sector is vital to Suriname because of its protein contribution to the country’s food supply. For years, SAIL has been bringing Surinamese marine shrimp culture to all corners of the world, and is now looking to broaden its reach
Suriname American Industries Ltd (SAIL) is one of the leading shrimp processing and exporting companies of the country. Though government-owned, it has never been subsidized since being established in 1955, and exports primarily to European, Canadian and Japanese markets.

Tielak Sharman, Director of SAIL, explains: “From point zero to 2011, we stayed on the traditional path by catching marine shrimp and seabob.” However, in past years the sector has been affected by high fuel prices and production volumes have declined.

“If you don’t have investment and investors, you cannot get it out of the soil or the sea.”
In its efforts to remain at the forefront of the sector, SAIL has widened its scope of activities. Now the company is going to diversify into fish catching, processing and exporting, and will consider even moving into the drinking-water business. “We have our own reserves for potable water, so we are also going in the direction of bottled water,” Mr. Sharman confirms.

Other initiatives consist of value-added products, including frying, pre-cooked and individual quick-frozen (IQF) goods. “You have to have a very good platform and infrastructure to do that, and the possibilities must be there,” explains Lodewijk Heidanus, SAIL’s Operations Manager.

SAIL’s fully equipped facilities, which include a processing room, power plant and harbor, and products meet national and international standards of quality, recognized by HACCP and NOAA, and its shrimp trawlers are TED compliant.

SAIL was presented with the MSC certificate, making Suriname’s the first tropical shrimp fishery in the world to achieve MSC certification as a sustainable and well-managed fishery. 

As SAIL looks into penetrating new markets, the company is also turning to foreign investors to turn its new business ideas into reality. “If you don’t have investment and investors, you cannot get it out of the soil or the sea; this is where U.S. organizations come in,” says Heidanus.

Proud of its first-rate reputation as an export company, Mr. Sharman says: “We do business in a very open, clear and secure way.”