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Seafood entrepreneur shares tips for success

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There is a booming market for the supply of seafood to the United States and Europe. Seafood entrepreneur Chief Princewill Utchay says there are opportunities for small businesses to explore in the business, DANIEL ESSIET reports.

Seafood export is big business. The global seafood market reached $120.85 billion in 2016, and is projected to reach about $155.32 billion by 2023, according to analysts.

Total global seafood consumption is projected to increase by 31 million tonnes by 2025 to reach 178 million tonnes. United States, Europe and United Kingdom are huge markets for seafood exports.

Although captured fishes still have a good potential, super markets and food chains still import shrimps, lobsters and others.

One of the entrepreneurs in the sector is the President, Institute of Export Operations and Management, Princewill Utchay. A graduate of marketing, Utchay returned from United States with various business ideas. From a small beginning, Utchay, also Chief Executive, Prime Seafood Limited, is a reference point in the industry. He started in the 80s.

Utchay spoke on the sidelines of the institute’s breakfast meeting held in Lagos. And where did his seafood interest come from? He grew up liking lobsters and shrimps.  He saw opportunities in seafood business while others were exploring the oil and gas industry.

When a group of diners sit down for a meal in expensive restaurants, they might add the final extravagant touch by ordering shrimp cocktails all round. This delights him. He quickly went one step further and zeroed in on seafood mostly shrimp and lobster. It was a new industry, there was plenty of room to grow and the opportunities it presented were much greater. And as the value of the product was much higher, and the revenues wrought from a single transaction were also much higher.   He sources products from across Nigeria, produces good quality in a high volume, while staying competitive and maintaining a proper packaging procedure.

But aside from the shrimp business, his other seafood interests are doing fine. His can-do attitude and willingness to adapt to and try new things is a great example for young Nigerian entrepreneurs to follow.

According to him, there is also a growing demand for sustainable seafood from retailers, hotels, restaurants and air-catering companies abroad.

For instance, exporters of prawns, shrimps can   secure a good position on the international market.

According to him, Nigeria can stimulate export by improving product quality and the infrastructure of its seafood sector.

He noted, however, that there was need to help exporters to satisfy the European regulations and legislation.

He said the institute is ready to help Nigerians export more sea food as good opportunities exist for increasing the amounts and variety of Nigeria products that can be sold abroad.

He said the institute will focus on productivity, EU food safety compliance and improving the productivity of small-scale businesses.

Chief Executive, Institute of Export Operations and Management, Mr. Ofon Udofia said there are opportunities for Nigerians to explore in the industry.

According to him, the sector remains largely untapped due to lack of adequate infrastructure and facilities as well as quality control mechanisms.

He said the exports sector faces challenges to remain competitive and to further grow, including in the technology to drive innovation and productivity.

Udofia said the institute conducts numerous programmes to develop capacity, export marketing skills and enhance awareness on international market opportunities.

The seminars and workshops, according to him, serve to guide would-be exporters and existing exporters of merchandise and services trade on the developments and business opportunities in international markets.

He said a component of the institute’s programmes is to further strengthen knowledge of the SMEs and boost their capacity to integrate into the global markets by providing in-depth information on the foreign markets, including practical information on how to export, services that SMEs can avail and use, consumer trends and market access environment of the sector, and practical market entry recommendations, among others.

The Head of the Trade Section, Trade, Investment and Competitiveness Commission, Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), Prof Jonathan Aremu, said there  was need to enhance knowledge on market accessibility, global trade requirements, trade practices, branding, international product and environmental standards, trade financing, and market requirements.

He lamented that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) negotiations had not made any head way, adding that it would have helped to expand market access for Nigerian exporters.

He stated that the opportunity of AfCFTA in Nigeria will enhance economic and political reform, security, increase performance, investment efficiency, intra-regional trade and investment.

He said there are opportunities for small businesses to trade globally.

He added, however, that small businesses must ensure that they understand the values, needs and behaviour patterns of African consumers and most businesses fail this test.


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