StarKist Samoa to mark 50th with festive activities
With StarKist Samoa set to mark its 50th anniversary in American Samoa on Aug. 17, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has proclaimed that date as “StarKist Samoa Day” and has expressed to the cannery the territory’s appreciation and gratitude for the years of continuous service to the community.
The celebration will kick off at 9a.m. at the Veterans Memorial Stadium and the cannery’s management and staff has a great program lined up with festive activities "to show our appreciation and gratitude to American Samoa, our vendors and partners for the tremendous support the past fifty years,” wrote StarKist Samoa general manager Brett B. Butler in an invitation to lawmakers, business community, local leaders and others.
Pittsburgh based StarKist first opened operations in the territory in 1963, as part of the H.J Heinz Company but in 2002, StarKist was acquired by San Francisco based Del Monte Foods. In 2008, StarKist was acquired by South Korean based Donwong Industries.
WORKFORCE & ECONOMIC CONTRIBUTION
When the local cannery was opened in the territory 50 years ago, it marked “a shift to a modern economy” for the territory, according to Lolo. “StarKist Samoa has become the single largest producing tuna cannery in the world,” he said in his July 31st proclamation.
As the largest private employer, StarKist Samoa employs between 40- 50% of the private sector workforce or 14% to 18% of the total workforce in the territory, including local and federal government workers, he said.
Over its 50 year history, the company has employed over 32,000 workers, a number which reflects more than half of the territory’s population today. Additionally, StarKist Samoa continues to inject $20 million annually into the local economy through its payroll.
Since its acquisition by Donwong, StarKist has invested $30 million in the local economy through capital investments, the governor said, and noted that StarKist employs about 2,000 residents “providing significant stimulus to our economy.”
According to the governor, the company exports 6,000 containers of cargo annually to the U.S. and 500 containers of cargo annually to Australia and Southeast Asia, while importing 1,000 containers of frozen fish annually as well as 700 containers of materials and equipment annually.
“...thus supporting the current frequency of vessels calling at our port, thereby reducing freight rates for American Samoa, which contributes to a better qualify of life for all residents,” he said.
In further support of the local economy, StarKist Samoa provides an additional $30 million annually injected into the territory through its purchases of electricity at $7.5 million, fuel at $5.6 million, water with $1.6 million, gas at $800,000 and miscellaneous items at $14.5 million.
“StarKist Samoa has been a true and dependable partner with its involvement in countless community activities including providing educational subsidies to private schools,” he said.
Moreover, the cannery has championed other fund raising activities as shown by its recent donation of $15,000 to the LBJ Medical Center for healthcare services improvement.
In his invitation letter, Butler said 50 years represents an important achievement for any company and it is an opportunity and a time to reflect on the past and to plan for new practices and strategies to ensure continued success in the future.
“StarKist Samoa is built on the principal of providing quality products and services that meet or exceed exceptions for performance, reliability and safety, at a competitive cost,” said Butler.
“We have held true to these values the past 50 years and have continued to grow by constantly improving our products, anticipating the needs of our markets, and above all, by supporting all our vendors and customers,” he added.