Thailand-based shrimp-focused exporter Siam Canadian, founded as a small trading company by Canadian-born entrepreneur Jim Gulkin in 1987, grew alongside Thailand’s seafood industry.
Gulkin then expanded its reach in 1992 when the company opened its first overseas branch in Vietnam. Siam Canadian continued to grow its procurement network and expand its operations by subsequently opening additional offices in China, India, Indonesia and Myanmar, eventually adding an international trading division at its Bangkok, Thailand, headquarters.
It currently maintains offices in seven countries, and procures product from North America, South America, Europe as well as Bangladesh, Korea and Japan.
It aims to be a seafood ‘one stop shop’, covering hundreds of different frozen items. As well as procurement, Siam Canadian works in quality assurance, packaging, logistics and new product development.
In 2017 it shipped over 3,000 containers of product valued at $325 million, it said. While focused on frozen seafood, it also exports frozen fruit, vegetables, canned products, and in 2018 diversified into meats, with a full division launched.
Events and trends
• Gulkin previously said that various trade disruptions could hit his aims of achieving $500m in revenues by around 2020 (though his focus is more on the bottom line, he stressed). One plus for the trading firm is that the EU’s increased scrutiny on Indian shrimp did not result in a ban, as had been feared, though higher levels of checks continue.
• Gulkin also warned that the administration of US president Donald Trump could see greater protectionism brought in, and those fears have certainly not been for nothing. In March 2018 the US set unexpectedly high anti-dumping rates on Vietnamese pangasius and shrimp exports.
• The US’ burgeoning trade war with China also continues, with just the threat of the latest round of tariffs against Chinese seafood reportedly causing a collapse in US orders at the start of September 2018.
• That same month Siam Canadian announced it was increasing its interest in meat trading, by opening a devoted division. Headquartered in Poland, the meat division’s aim will be to “quickly build a significant position in the meat industry, much in the same way that Siam Canadian has already realized in the frozen seafood sector”. This will be an important part of the firm’s growth moving forward, Gulkin said.
Siam Canadian’s business benefits from higher shrimp prices, so 2018 is likely to have been tough so far, with prices in India, Thailand, and Vietnam all substantially down year-on-year. Added to that, various ongoing trade disruption complicates the company’s operations.
“If other countries such as Thailand, India, Indonesia
and Vietnam are targeted [by tariffs], then the
impact will indeed be more significant”
— Jim Gulkin
However, Gulkin said year-to-date net revenue for 2018 was up significantly as of September 2018, and its bottom line was healthy, if not a great deal higher than in previous years. He believes the company can hit $500m in sales by around 2021-2022, and said that as long as tariff measures and trade conflicts on the part of the US focus on China, his business would not be too affected.
“If other countries such as Thailand, India, Indonesia and Vietnam are targeted, then the impact will indeed be more significant.”
Gulkin has previously said that drivers for growth included expansion of its customer base, increased sales in existing markets, and further penetration into some of the newer markets, such as Asia, Central and South America and Africa.
“We have continued to focus on the expansion of our markets in Asia, Central and South America and Africa,” Gulkin said, by way of an update on this. “We are seeing positive results from this, and this is one of the factors for our increase in net revenues.”
The CEO also noted the new meat division was an important development for the business, and its strategy for expansion and diversification.