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ASG looks to overcome supply chain bottlenecks with economic development opportunities

Gov. Lemanu P.S. Mauga
Traveling group visits a chicken farm and StarKist headquarters

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The American Samoa Government is taking action to further develop opportunities to help prepare and sustain the American Samoa economy during difficult times like the COVID-19 nationwide lockdown and unprecedented supply chain challenge.

A statement issued this week by ASG outlined the unprecedented supply chain challenges due to the territory’s rural and remote location.

 “The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the Island’s economy, disrupting supply chains and contributing to major delays in shipping. The shortage of supply and high demand caused a spike in food prices and [other] limited resources. There were uncertainties and frustration among the people of American Samoa during the pandemic restrictions.”

(Read story about FEMA supply chain study for the Pacific region elsewhere in this issue.)

Last week, Governor Lemanu P. S. Mauga, Chief of Staff Loa Tauapa’i Laupola and Directors Solia Mutini, Petti Matila, Faleosina Voigt, Ryan Tuato’o, and Tuiafono Sua visited a chicken farm in Maryland to explore its operation, including hatchery, incubation, and processing.

Chicken is an indispensable part of the lives of the people in American Samoa and the cost of a box of chicken continues to rise due to the inflation that is affecting the whole nation.

 “The Lemanu-Talauega administration’s path forward is for American Samoa to prepare and supply its own chicken product. The chicken farm will be a collaborative effort between the government and the community.

“It will provide job opportunities and initiate an affordable entry point for long-term economic investment.

 “The investment into the chicken farm can be transformed into a wide array of marketable products that will benefit the people of American Samoa.”

Director Mutini is scheduling a follow-up virtual meeting with Mr. Adam Kim from the Eastern Contractors Corporation to put together a strategy to work on the next steps.


President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of StarKist, Mr. Chae-Ung Um, and his executive staff had invited Governor Lemanu and his team to tour their headquarters in Reston, Virginia on February 2, 2023.

Unfortunately, Lemanu was not able to attend due to a conflicting meeting, but the Chief of Staff Loa and a team of directors were able to meet with CEO Chae-Ung Um and his team.

 “The meeting started with a tour led by StarKist’s head of Corporate Affairs; Michelle Faist followed by sampling a few of the top Tuna products that are exclusively made in American Samoa.

 “Chief of Staff Loa and the directors were impressed by the great taste and quality of the Tuna products.

 “The Tuna products that were sampled are not sold in American Samoa.

“The local businesses can put in a request with StarKist to purchase and sell these top Tuna products at their stores.

 “Another special product that is exclusively made in American Samoa is the military Tuna pouch.”

The statement says that according to CEO Chae-Ung Um, he is working with the CEO of 7-Eleven and the military to purchase and sell the military Tuna pouches.

The American Samoa Department of Commerce Director Matila invited the CEO and his team to join the “Atoa o Samoa” trade show in April.

 “The trade show is the first organized event under the Atoa o Samoa and its purpose is to encourage local entrepreneurs to market and sell their locally-made products. The trade show will be a great opportunity for StarKist to market the top Tuna products and more to the neighboring Island of Samoa.”

Chae-Ung Um agreed and has assigned a team to work on the logistics and to become a part of the trade show in April.

 The tour ended with a meeting in a conference room with the StarKist executives including the CEO, CFO Young Choi, Director of Legal Sang Lee, SVP (Finance) Tilo Gomez, Director (R&D) Barry Traband, SVP (Supply Chain) Earl Moynihan, and Michelle Faist.

 Michelle expressed gratitude to the American Samoan people and acknowledged their contributions to StarKist’s success.

 Chae-Ung Um spoke next and he thanked the government for opening the guest worker program to assist with the impact of COVID-19 on Starkist’s operation and asked for the American Samoa government’s (ASG) help to expand StarKist to other countries.

 He acknowledged that Congresswoman Uifataali Amata will need to be looped into these conversations soon.

“The Chief of staff Loa confirmed with the CEO that the ASG will be on standby to support when StarKist is ready to expand to other countries. ASG will also continue to support the guest worker program.

 “A success for StarKist is a success for American Samoa,” said Chief of Staff Loa.

Chae-Ung Um reminded the Chief of Staff and the rest of the group about the celebration for the 60th birthday since StarKist has been established in American Samoa.

 “This is a huge milestone and American Samoa has been a huge part of StarKist’s success. The CEO plans to visit American Samoa for StarKist’s 60th birthday. Finally, the CEO asked about StarKist’s involvement in the upcoming Flag Day events.

 According to the statement, as part of StarKist’s birthday celebration, Chief Loa invited StarKist to participate in the upcoming Flag Day.

 “The meeting concluded with the exchange of gifts between the two groups.”

Chae-Ung Um was gifted a carved traditional plate, Ulafala, and locally made Moana Taro Chips.

The StarKist team presented gift baskets of individual tuna products to each of the American Samoa team members that attended the tour and meeting.