(Reuters) – Thai Union Frozen Products Pcl , the world’s largest canned tuna maker, said on Tuesday it had signed a joint venture agreement with a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s Savola Group to tap the Middle Eastern seafood market.
The move by the Thai seafood company to expand into Middle East, one of the world’s fastest growing seafood markets, came after its planned acquisition of Bumble Bee Seafoods faced potential delays due to an antitrust investigation in the United States.
Thai Union and Savola Foods Company together plan to invest $30 million to $50 million in the joint venture over the next two years, the Thai firm said in a statement.
The joint venture will use Thai Union’s flagship John West brand to market in the Middle East countries and is expected to gain market share with a target annual sales revenue of over $400 million within the next three to four years, it added.
Savola Foods, which sells mass consumers foods such as edible oils, sugar and pasta, generated revenue of $3.9 billion in 2014.
The Middle Eastern market is estimated to be valued at over $3 billion, Thai Union said. The core markets such as Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia alone had seafood sales in excess of $2 billion in 2014 and had average growth of over 4 percent in the past five years, it said.
The company said it was on track to achieve sales target of $8 billion in 2020, despite the delay in Bumble Bee deal. Thai Union said it is keen to invest in growing markets in Africa, Canada and Asia. ($1 = 36.12 Baht) (Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Anand Basu)
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