Canned Tuna Industry


    Canned tuna is made from tuna’s white meat usually presented in the following product forms: solid, chunks, and others such as flakes, grated or smoked. It is packed in oil, brined or sauce. A range of flavoring and seasoning additives are used in canning including salt, MSG, hydrolysed  protein and various spices.

    For canning, the firmer loins are used for “chunks”, solid packs those less firm or brocken are used for “chunks”. The scrapings which are not blood, red meat or skin, are collected and sent to the flake or grated lines.

    There are four (4) major tuna species for canning available in the Philippine marine waters particularly in the ARMM area of responsibility: the skipjack or “gulyasan” (katsuwonus pelamis), the yellow fin or “tambakol” ( thonnus albacores), the eastern little tuna ( tuthynnus yaito), and the frigate tuna or “tulingan” ( auxix thazard).  These tuna species can be found in ARMM waters. Which are known as tuna rich areas.

The canned tuna industry mainly serves the export market, with about 95%of its production sold abroad. At present, there are seventeen (17) BOI registered firms engaged in tuna canning activity. Unfortunately, only seven (7) of these firms are active, and the rest are either no longer in operation or not exporting. These firms these firms that are still in operation are capable of producing 8.5 million cases annually ( based on their annual report submitted to BOI Manila).
The forerunners of the industry are: Celebes canning Corporation, Mar Fishing Co., Nautica Canning Canning corporation, RFM Corporation and Sea trade Development Corporation. Still, the biggest tuna export market is the U.S. followed by Japan, the United Kingdom , Great Britain, Canada, Germany and South Korea.

The volume of canned tuna exports have risen through the years with an average growth of 6.80% for the last five years since 2003.

2003 44,696 95,198
2004 46,120 104,472
2005 51724 89,690
2006 55,488 121454
2006 58,034 138,803

Source: Foreign Trade Statistics

    The industry utilizes conventional methods in the processing of tuna. Much of the advancement in technology is still derived from the services of foreign nationals who are employed by many local firms to impart valuable and practical knowhow in modern tuna processing techniques, particularly in the area of quality control.

    The Philippine tuna industry made a considerable stride over the last five years, considering that they have a skilled, less expensive and discipline workforce, and an abundant supply of raw materials. It stands to profit from its access to raw materials and low production costs.

    The combination of low labor costs and the availability of raw materials makes for an unbeatable advantage which puts developed countries out of the picture.

    While the industry is still in need of good quality packaging materials, such ancillary industries as tin plate manufacturing and equipment and spare parts supply which pose barriers to industry development, offer an avenue of opportunity for foreign investors.

    Marketing assistance and marketing tie-ups in the form of exclusive distributorship, infusion of technology in packaging and product labeling are also promising investment areas. Other areas of investment interest includes: packaging materials such as cartoons, tin cans, glass wares, foil wrappers and plastic bags, storage and handling facilities and cost-efficient distribution system.
   ARMM today have initiated for guarding its municipal waters especially in areas where this tuna is spawning. Mostly of the catch tuna were in the Sulu seas where the abundance of this specie belong. Investment on this industry will give labor opportunity to 4.1 million populace of the region. Establishment of a processing plant in the island provinces of ARMM will lead to the development of the industry and its people.

    The Omnibus Investment Code of 1987 (E.O 226) offer a package of incentives to investors who register with the Regional Board of Investments provided at least 70% of production is geared for export for enterprises that are more than foreign owned and at least 50% Filipino owned domestic corporation.


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