Siam Canadian plans China import expansion : March 16, 2016
Neil Ramsden and Tom Seaman : Undercurrentnews
Thailand-based import/export firm Siam Canadian plans to increase its import business to China, after 2015 saw improved profits and volumes across various markets.
The company, which is run by founder Jim Gulkin, already has an office in Zhanjiang, Guangong province, which handles sourcing and sales of Chinese seafood.
“We are going start off small and slow. We are looking at setting up a small office to manage imports and it will be ‘learn as we go’ type of thing — we are not going to go out with any big fanfare,” he told Undercurrent News during the recent Seafood Expo North America in Boston.
The business will initially focus on frozen seafood items for the domestic market, but will eventually expand to other food items as well, he said.
At the same time, the company is still working on imports to Thailand, which is growing “bit-by-bit”, he said. “It is a tough market, it is very competitive.”
Siam Canadian was founded as an exporter, selling from Asia to markets worldwide, but in the past few years the import side of the business has become increasingly important, said Gulkin.
“Selling shrimp to processors in China and Vietnam has become major business for our India office, and shipments from our Indonesia office to China and Vietnam are expanding as well.”
The Thailand import business is growing, albeit slowly, he said. The company is taking it step-by-step, and will continue to expand its product range.
“Thailand seems to have made the most progress of all Asian countries in terms of recovery from EMS [early mortality syndrome], as well as overall disease control and management covering EMS, EHP [enterocytozoon hepatopenaei], white spot and other diseases. Necessity is the mother of invention, and Thailand has made great strides.”
In August 2015, Gulkin said he would like to see his company boost its 2014 $320 million annual revenue to over $500m over the next five to seven years, largely by expanding its seafood importing and distribution businesses.
“Due to considerably lower shrimp (and other seafood) prices, our turnover for 2015 was lower than 2014,” he told Undercurrent in March 2016.
“We finished off 2015 at approximately $280m. However, our volume was in fact up by 5% and our net profits up by 7%, so all in all we did better than 2014.”
It was too early to make a prediction for 2016, given there “are always too many variables in this business”, but he expects turnover to once again surpass $300m for 2016, he said.