Named after the lush rainforests in South America, where Brian Jardim, founder and CEO of Rainforest Seafoods (Rainforest), first started importing fish, Rainforest has quickly become the Caribbean’s largest supplier of premium-quality seafood. “We’ve been at it for 19 years, currently selling to nine islands in the Caribbean, from Trinidad up to the Cayman Islands and we’re moving into more markets in the U.S., Canada and Europe, as well,” reveals Brian, who founded the Jamaica-based company in 1995.
Backed by a wealth of experience in the tourism industry, Brian recognized the need for a high quality, consistent supply of seafood for hotels and resorts in the Caribbean in the early 1990s. In 1995, Brian set out by brokering container loads of bulk-packed seafood to resorts and distributors throughout the eastern Caribbean.
Since 1995, business has moved swimmingly for Rainforest and the company is now not only a retailer and distributor, but also a wholesaler, producer, processor and manufacturer of all things seafood. “We’re fairly vertically integrated,” reveals Brian. “We own our own boats and we recently acquired a shrimp farm in Belize. We have two fish plants in Central America, in Belize and in Honduras.”
While most of the company’s 400 or so products are fresh-frozen, from shrimp to squid to trout and tilapia, crabmeat to conch, Rainforest has a fresh program based in Honduras. “We export fresh fish to the U.S., airfreighted to Miami, distributed up and down the Eastern Seaboard,” notes Brian.
Boiling up in the lobster market
The Caribbean Islands have been Rainforest’s focus, from Antigua and Barbuda to St. Lucia, Grenada and Barbados and beyond. According to Brian, there are now even more opportunities in the U.S., Canada and Europe for the rapidly growing company. Processing of Jamaican-sourced Caribbean spiny lobsters commenced in 2013 and Rainforest is looking forward to ramping up volumes in the lobster market with increased exports in 2014.
“Honduras and the Bahamas have always been the primary Caribbean lobster tail suppliers to the United States,” says Max Jardim, second-generation company manager. “Jamaica’s reputation has always been subpar, but we plan to change that quickly.”
Sustainable surf and turf
Rainforest aims to earn most of its revenues from export markets in the U.S. and beyond within three years. To meet the target, the company is rolling out new products, from pickled mackerel to smoked marlin, salmon and other whole fish, breaded and battered fish and shrimp and several new flavors of gourmet burgers, including beef, snapper, turkey and shrimp.
“Our main 30,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art processing plant in Kingston, Jamaica, is both E.U. and Food and Drug Administration-certified and HACCP-approved,” Brian explains. “We’re looking to expand the distribution of these products and more to the U.S., Europe and Canada.”
Eat good, do good
Even amid an influx of new products, the company plans to purchase from local fishermen who are approved by the veterinary services departments, operating within HACCP guidelines as part of Rainforest’s ongoing sustainability commitment and investment in the Caribbean’s manufacturing, industrial and agricultural sectors.
The company’s leadership in corporate social responsibility is embodied in Rainforest’s ‘Eat good, do good,’ motto, which is evident throughout the organization, from acquiring products from sustainable sources to a dedication to local philanthropic organizations.
“We’re heavily invested in our community,” says Brian. “We host the annual Rainforest Seafood and Music Festival in Montego Bay, an annual event that celebrates the best in Jamaican seafood, music and community and raises funds for the charitable organization We Care for Cornwall Regional Hospital.”
Through this event, Rainforest is committed to partnering with western Jamaica’s primary regional hospital and raising the standard of care offered to citizens of the West.
“We also support the local fishing industry by cooperating with the Jamaican Environment Trust to protect marine stocks from overfishing,” adds Brian. “It’s all a part of our culture here at Rainforest.”
With one of the largest seafood-oriented plants in the Caribbean, Rainforest Seafoods continues to gain more market share in the Caribbean Islands, U.S., Canada and other global marketplaces through new, innovative products while maintaining a commitment to responsible business practices.