Thai Union Strikes it Rich with Tuna Oil

business May 21, 2019 01:00


When Tunyawat Kasemsuwan, the director of Global Innovation Centre (GIC), joined Thai Union Group five years ago, he saw a lot of “value” left unused at the firm’s tuna processing factory, and decided to take on the responsibility of finding ways to tap that value.

Tunyawat later led the centre to research and develop ways to cash in on this abandoned value, and finally proposed that the company produce refined tuna oil as a new business. 

And now, the long journey of extracting value from the remains of tuna-fish has reached its destination. Crude fish oil extracted in Samut Sakhon province is being shipped to Germany, where Thai Union’s new marine oil refinery is purifying the oil to be sold in the market. 

Five months after the seafood giant’s “Thai Union Marine Nutrients” oil refinery in Rostock, Germany, began operations late last year, they have so far sold 250 tonnes of refined tuna oil to one of the world’s top five infant formula manufacturers.

In the past, the company had treated tuna fish heads as a waste and normally sold it as animal feed at Bt6 per kilo, but after being transformed into refined oil through state-of-the-art technology it has become a value-added product, Tunyawat said.

“And it could increase its value a 100 times if it were developed to the highest level for use as an ingredient in pharmaceutical products,” the director said, during a recent visit to the refinery by a group of Thai journalists.

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