With MSC certification near, Guyanese seabob firm looks to European markets for growth
Georgetown, Guyana-based Pritipaul Singh Investment is a USD 50 million (EUR 44.6 million) company that exports 11 to 12 million pounds of shrimp annually, mostly to the United States.
The company owns and operates 50 steel-hull seabob trawlers, and an additional 35 wooden vessels fishing for pelagics such as mahi, swordfish, and marlin, as well as bangamary, butterfish, croaker, and corvina.
And after an eight-year process, the fishery upon which the company is built – the Atlantic seabob (Xiphopenaeus kroyeri), a small-sized, short-lived shrimp – is set to receive certification from the Marine Stewardship Council by November 2019.
For Pritipaul Singh Jr., the managing director of the company his father founded in 1999, the firm’s success is something to celebrate. But after years of hard work, he told SeafoodSource that no one at the company is ready to rest on their laurels.
The company decided to exhibit at Seafood Expo Global for the first time this year with the goal of expanding its reach into Europe. Currently, the company only registers about 5 percent of its sales in Europe, and Singh Jr. said Singh Jr. said he would ideally like that figure to be around 50 percent.
“A better spread of markets will help us in the long run,” he told SeafoodSource on the floor of the expo in Brussels, Belgium. “We’re here to make contacts and promote the seabob from Guyana to grocery chains all over Europe.”
Singh Jr. said he believes the MSC certification, along with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) certification the company already possesses, will make a big difference for European customers.
Blaine Bailey-Gregory, the vice president of Lakeland, Florida, U.S.A. Bailey’s Seafood Inc., which imports Pritipaul Singh Investment’s seabob into the U.S. and sells to retailers and foodservice outlets nationwide, said U.S. buyers are also making a bigger push for MSC certification.
“The demand [for it] is getting louder and more urgent,” she said.
Singh Jr. added that that the company may soon have to follow suit with its fish, which make up 30 percent of the company’s sales.
But at the company’s first day as an exhibitor at SEG, the focus was on the seabob, which the company has built itself upon, selling to national retailers in the U.S. and to foodservice outlets that serve it fried.
“They’re not a cocktail-sauce type of shrimp,” she said. “But people love them when they’re breaded – they’re just the right size” for popcorn shrimp.
Pink-copper in color, the shrimp don’t need much special care in the kitchen to serve as a culinary treat, according to Singh Jr.
“They’re perfect simply boiled in water,” Singh Jr. said. “If you’re a seafood person, the taste they give out is to die for.”