BRUNEI-MUARA – To cater to China’s burgeoning demand for Brunei’s quality seafood, Pure Fresh International Holdings Limited and Ghanim International Corporation Sdn Bhd will be investing over $400 million to set up a facility to breed and process blue shrimp and other seafood such as grouper.

On Thursday, the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for collaboration in the area of aquaculture processing with the intention to export to China as well as other markets.

Currently, under the Bruneihalalfoods brand, Pure Fresh exports an average of two containers of seafood a month — comprising mainly blue shrimp — to China. With the completion of its new facility, which will be undertaken in phases over a five-year period, it aims to eventually be able to export 10 containers a month.

Distribution of Brunei’s premium blue shrimp has gone China-wide, not just online through channels such as Alibaba, but also major retailers such as Walmart.

“We have a client base of around 500 million [in China]. What we ship to China [from Brunei now] can barely meet our customers’ demand,” said Pure Fresh director, Eyan Ou.

The plans for the new facility, which will also include research and development, will not stop it from buying blue shrimp and other seafood from local sellers. Eyan stressed that they will not reject quality seafood supplied by local SMEs as they want “as many as possible”.

In fact, the demand is so huge, Eyan welcomes more suppliers, noting that other markets such as Australia, Japan and Singapore have also expressed interest in Brunei’s blue shrimp.

“We [want to] capitalise on Brunei’s clean and safe environment…  [which means that we have better] quality blue shrimp and seafood. We will be growing on land and sea,” Ghanim International CEO Dr Nur Rahman told media. The collaboration, he noted, will be a “total supply chain for aquaculture”, aiming to boost output.

He added: “Sites [for aquaculture] have been identified and it is just a matter of implementation… We can then slowly increase production… focusing on hatchery and breeding. There are challenges, but the opportunity is bigger.”

According to Eyan, the second phase of the facility project will be completed by end of 2019, which will bring up their processing ability up to 5,000 tonnes a year.