MARKET TO THE WORLD

Jamaica 2019 | MANUFACTURING | INTERVIEW

Sustainable fishery methods are but one of the ingredients to success in a niche but high-demand market.

Brian Jardim
BIOGRAPHY
Brian Jardim is CEO of Rainforest Seafoods, the Caribbean’s largest vertically integrated seafood harvester, processor, exporter, and distributor. He leads a team of 700 team members across the Caribbean, with company headquarters in Jamaica and satellite operations in St. Lucia, Belize, and the Bahamas. Rainforest Seafoods operates 30 retail outlets in Jamaica with a distribution network that extends to all major supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, and wholesalers in the Caribbean.

What have been the main highlights for the company?

We are the largest seafood player in the Caribbean headquartered in Jamaica. Vertically integrated with vessels, farms, and processing plants in Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Belize, with over 730 team members we are a dominant force in our industry in the region. Our largest facility is a three-acre processing plant and distribution center in Kingston capable of sophisticated food processing as well as value-added manufacturing including breading, battering, marinating, smoking, and cooking. Here, we manage the production of burgers for international fast food chains, including Burger King and Wendy's, as well as homegrown quick serve-chains like Juici, Tastee, and Island Grill. We source raw material from around the world, and with our local ingredients, team members, and technology, we add value right here. Our most recent achievement is building the largest free-standing freezer in the English Caribbean at our Montego Bay facility, which effectively doubles our island-wide storage capacity and allows us to create an operationally effective and strategic logistics hub for both our imports and exports. Moreover, we can better serve our growing hotel industry and operate as a central hub for supplying the other 15 Caribbean islands to which we currently export. In Jamaica, we have 30 retail stores and four restaurants. This model works well for us across the Caribbean.

Can you tell us more about your sustainable environmental practices?

Sustainable fishing practices are important to us. In lobster harvesting, for example, we only use traps on our industrial vessels in Jamaica and snare sticks in Belize, as scuba-assisted diving often involves hooking and killing the animal before the fisher has the ability to verify whether or not it is pregnant or of legal size. In the Bahamas, the lobster fishery has achieved MSC Certification, a testament to the sustainability of the resource. We have a stone crab vessel producing stone crab claws, a high-demand, niche product. It is a unique, sustainable fishery that involves breaking only one of the two crab claws and returning the animal back to the ocean, and this species of crab can grow a new claw in one season. Unlike mega farms with intensive farming practices, the entire Belize aquaculture sector is a small and closely managed industry with seven low-environmental impact shrimp farms. Our farm and processing plant are both ASC and EU certified.

What are the main outcomes with the Rainforest organic farms?

Rainforest Farms is a boutique 80-acre property where we grow niche products that Jamaica is famous for, such as cocoa and turmeric. It is a beautiful property in Trelawny with a river running though it, providing us with a reliable year-round water supply. We just begun our export thrust and recently built an export-packing house that is certified by RADA and endorsed by JAMPRO to assist in that process. Our plans are more medium- to long-term plays, with a focus on niche products that we believe in. Eventually, we hope to be able to meet the demands of the local market as well as the diaspora markets in the UK, Canada, and the US.

How is your logistic model expanding?

We fly live lobster from Jamaica and Belize to lucrative Asian markets. We are blessed with the Port of Kingston, which is among the top five deepwater harbors in the region and provides wonderful access to the global market. We import products and raw materials from South and Central America, Australia, and Asia and then export to 15 Caribbean islands, Europe, and Asia.

What are your goals for 2019?

For starters, we seek to build out a larger distribution center in St Lucia, strengthen our operations in the Bahamas, expand our shrimp farm and processing plant in southern Belize, and break ground on one or two more comprehensive seafood processing plants in the Caribbean.