Dharma Samudera Fishing Industries was established in 1973 and has grown into a company with several facilities. Do you have further ones than in Jakarta, Kendari and Makassar?
We have set up Makassar as an eastern hub, where the infrastructure is better and we also have Banggae in East Sulawesi. Lately we are operating jointly with our suppliers rather than building new factories in remote areas. This has proven more efficient and allows us to focus on our day to day business. As a public listed company, we do not operate a fleet anymore and are now concentrating oni production and exporting. We are now also concentrating on multiple species, such as Barramundi, Red Snapper, Tuna, Octopus and Parrot Fish.
What have been the main development steps for the company over the years?
Between 2007 and 2009 red snapper became very scarce and prices went up. After Minister Susi Pudjiastuti took office, we realized that this decline was due to illegal foreign fishing boats fishing thousands of tons of Indonesian fish.
Selling has become easier for us now, without those fleets that could offer our fish at cheaper prices, being illegal. But the infrastructure is still expensive. The middle man, is making the profits. Luckily these prices are coming down but still, shipping a container from South Sulawesi to Java is $600 more expensive than a container to Los Angeles.
Are you also exporting farmed fish?
Sometimes we work together with local suppliers. Maybe it is because we have been in the business for such a long time, but we make it a point to work together with other suppliers. For instance, if one of the companies cannot export for a month or has an overcapacity, then we help and buy a few tons from each other. This way everyone profits.
How is it in terms of export markets for your company, I understood you said in Europe is your largest market?
The USA and Europe are about the same, 40% each. However, when I say USA, we sometimes include orders from Canada, Mexico or the Dominican Republic. The remaining 20% is exported to Japan, Australia, Korea and sometimes the Middle East.
In terms of downstream diversification, how do you see the opportunities in this area, for instance in canning or other areas?
We are focusing on processing; we are now offering smaller packaging up to 500 grams of fish with our own brand, and sometimes we pack supermarket brands. There again we have to adhere to different standards, such as the BRC, the British Retail Consortium for the retail market, and EU and US regulation on sustainable fisheries. People abroad are now seeing our fish as sustainable, but we need a nation-wide certification for sustainable fisheries.
Europe is a good market for us, because the younger generation has more knowledge about fish and is interested in specific species. We are now getting requests for pre-filleted fish and are doing more retail because the value addition is profitable.
How should Indonesian Fisheries be seen internationally?
Indonesian fisheries should be seen as the source for sustainably caught wild fish. The framework is already there, but you now also see it practically. The ports are cleaner, drainage is working, and when we need catch certificates for Europe we get them immediately. This system was introduced two years ago and allows you to see which vessel caught the fish, when it unloaded etc. This is enhancing the traceability and this way you can ensure quality and sustainability.
As a last question, from a macroeconomic perspective, how do you describe the development in Indonesia?
Over the past two years, freight price has declined, which is unprecedented for us. This is not linked to fuel prices, but because the government is ensuring competition can flourish. We also see the improvement of the harbors, they now are operating cranes, even in remote areas, which is very helpful. As long as there is less friction between authorities and businesses, this is positive for us, because we are in the middle. We hope here that red tape will be further alleviated, and business can continue to run smoothly..