SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
x ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES
EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2009
o TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES
EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from to
Commission File Number 333-40790
CHINA MARINE FOOD GROUP LIMITED
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Da Bao Industrial Zone, Shishi City
(Address of principal executive offices)
(Issuer's telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes o Nox
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Exchange Act. Yes o No x
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yesx No ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).
Yes o. No o.
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, or a non-accelerated filer. See definition of “accelerated filer and large accelerated filer” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer ¨ Accelerated filer ¨ Non-accelerated filer ¨
Smaller Reporting Company x
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes ¨ No x
As of June 30, 2009, the aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was $38,849,301 based on the closing sale price of $3.47 as reported on the OTC Bulletin Board. As of March 15, 2010, there were 28,393,650 shares of common stock outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
China Marine Food Group Limited
For the Year Ended December 31, 2009
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INFORMATION REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements. These statements relate to future events or our future financial performance. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, levels of activity, performance, or achievements expressed or implied by forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terminology such as "may," "will," "should," "expect," "plan," "anticipate," "believe," "estimate," "predict," "potential" or "continue," the negative of such terms or other comparable terminology. These statements are only predictions. Actual events or results may differ materially.
Although we believe that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, we cannot guarantee future results, levels of activity, performance or achievements. Moreover, neither we nor any other person assumes responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of the forward-looking statements. We undertake no duty to update any of the forward-looking statements after the date of this report to conform such statements to actual results or to changes in our expectations.
Readers are also urged to carefully review and consider the various disclosures made by us which attempt to advise interested parties of the factors which affect our business, including without limitation the disclosures made in PART I. ITEM 1A. “Risk Factors” and PART II. ITEM 6 "Management's Discussion and Analysis or Plan of Operation" included herein.
Through our direct, wholly owned subsidiary, Ocean Technology (China) Company Limited (“Ocean Technology’) and its subsidiaries, Shishi Rixiang Marine Food Co., Ltd. (“Rixiang”), Shishi Huabao Jixiang Water Products Co., Ltd.(“Jixiang”), Shishi Huabao Mingxiang Foods Co., Ltd. (“Mingxiang”) and Shishi Xianglin Trading Co., Ltd. (“Xianglin”), we engage in the business of processing, distribution and sale of processed seafood-based snack foods, as well as the sale of fresh and frozen marine catch. Our objective is to establish ourselves as a leading producer of processed seafood products in the PRC and overseas markets. In 2010, we also became a manufacturer of algae-based soft drinks through our acquisition of Shishi Xianghe Food Science and Technology Co., Ltd. (“Xianghe”).
Our dried and flavored seafood-based snack foods are predominantly sold under our registered trademark, the “Mingxiang” brand. These products are sold to 19 exclusive distributors in seven provinces in the PRC, including Fujian, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shandong, Zhejiang, Liaoning and Sichuan and in turn sub-distributed to 2,200 retail points in the PRC (including major supermarkets and retailers such as Wal-Mart and Carrefour) throughout these provinces. Our frozen processed seafood products are sold to both domestic and overseas customers. Founded in 1994, China Marine has grown steadily and positioned its "Mingxiang" brand as a category leader. We have received "Famous Brand" and "Green Food" awards. Our marine catch is sold to overseas customers and distributors in Fujian, Shandong and Liaoning provinces, some of whom directly export the marine catch to South Korea and Taiwan.
Our business premises, including our production plant, cold storage facility, office tower and staff dormitory, are located close to Xiangzhi Port, the largest fishing port in Fujian Province, which is one of the largest coastal provinces in the PRC and a vital navigation hub between the East China Sea and the South China Sea.
On January 1, 2010, Mingxiang acquired shares representing 80% of the registered capital stock of Xianghe. Xianghe is a manufacturer of the branded Hi-Power algae-based soft drinks. Xianghe has developed a network of distributors with exclusive territories in Fujian, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Hunan which sell Hi-Power to retail food stores, restaurants food supply dealers and the hospitality industry. In addition to the distribution network which Xianghe has developed, we intend to integrate the beverage product into Mingxiang’s distribution network.
Our principal executive offices are located at Da Bao Industrial Zone, Shishi City, Fujian, China, 362700, and our telephone number at that location is 86-595-8898-7588.
Our Corporate Structure
We are a holding company organized under the laws of Nevada and Ocean Technology is a holding company organized under the laws of Hong Kong. The other subsidiaries are organized under the laws of the PRC. All subsidiaries are wholly-owned except for Xianghe, the beverage company, in which we own an 80% interest.
Our Corporate History
We were incorporated in the State of Nevada on October 1, 1999 under the name New Paradigm Productions, Inc. to engage in the production and marketing of meditation music and related supplies.
Starting January 1, 2000, we commenced a private placement of our common stock in reliance upon an exemption from registration under Section 4(2) of the Securities Act and Regulation D promulgated thereunder. We offered 100,000 shares of our common stock at $0.35 per share to certain accredited investors. The offering closed in March 2000 and we raised gross proceeds in the amount of $35,000. Pursuant to a registration statement on Form SB-2 that was declared effective on October 26, 2000, we sold 77,000 shares of our common stock, raising a total of $77,000 in gross proceeds.
On September 13, 2007, we entered into a Stock Purchase Agreement (“SPA”) with Halter Financial Investments, L.P., a Texas limited partnership (“HFI”) pursuant to which we agreed to sell to HFI, 1,005,200 shares of our post reverse stock-split common stock for $400,000. After consummation of the transaction, HFI became the holder of 1,005,200 shares of our common stock, or 87.5% of the 1,148,826 shares of our then outstanding common stock. In addition, the terms of the SPA required us to declare and pay a special cash dividend of $0.364 per post stock-split share to our shareholders of record as of September 12, 2007. Stockholders holding a total of 1,077,000 shares received a special cash dividend in the total amount of $392,028 which amount was funded with proceeds from the stock sale. Effective on September 25, 2007, we effectuated a 7.5 to 1 reverse stock split and increased our authorized shares of common stock to 100,000,000.
We discontinued our principal operations as of December 2002 and have been, until our reverse acquisition with Ocean Technology on November 17, 2007 described below, investigating potential acquisitions or opportunities.
Acquisition of Ocean Technology and Related Financing
On November 17, 2007, we completed a reverse acquisition transaction with Ocean Technology through a share exchange with Ocean Technology’s former stockholders. Pursuant to the share exchange agreement, the shareholders of Ocean Technology exchanged 100% of their outstanding capital stock in Ocean Technology for approximately 15,624,034 shares of our common stock, or approximately 93.15% shares of our outstanding common stock after the share exchange. In connection with the share exchange, a majority of our shareholders of record as of November 16, 2007 approved a resolution by our board of directors to change our name from New Paradigm Productions, Inc. to China Marine Food Group Limited. The name change became effective on January 9, 2008 upon the filing of a Certificate of Amendment to our Amended Articles of Incorporation with the State of Nevada on the twentieth day following the mailing of a Definitive Information Statement to our shareholders. Concurrently with the closing of the reverse acquisition on November 17, 2007, we completed a private placement of our securities to certain accredited investors who subscribed for units consisting one share of common stock and a warrant to purchase one-fifth of one share of our common stock. The investors subscribed for aggregate of 6,199,441 shares of our common stock and warrants to purchase an aggregate of 1,239,888 shares of our common stock at $3.214 per unit. The units were offered and sold pursuant to from registration under the Securities Act, including without limitation, Regulation D and Regulation S promulgated under the Securities Act. Each warrant issued to the investors has a term of three years and is exercisable at any time for a price equal to $4.1782 in cash or on a cashless exercise basis.
In connection with the private placement, our principal stockholder, Pengfei Liu, entered into a make good agreement pursuant to which Mr. Liu agreed, subject to certain conditions discussed below, to place into an escrow account, 6,199,441 shares of common stock of the Company he beneficially owns. If we had not generated net income of $10.549 million for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2008, up to 50% of the shares held in escrow would have been transferred to the private placement investors. If we did not generate net income of $14.268 million for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2009, the remaining shares held in escrow would have been transferred to the private placement investors, on a pro rata basis. Since the net income for 2008 and 2009 met the minimum net income thresholds, no transfer of the escrowed shares was made to the private placement investors.
For accounting purposes, the share exchange transaction was treated as a reverse acquisition with Ocean Technology as the acquirer and China Marine Food Group Limited as the acquired party. When we refer herein to business and financial information for periods prior to the consummation of the reverse acquisition, we are referring to the business and financial information of Ocean Technology on a consolidated basis unless the context suggests otherwise.
On January 25, 2010, we sold an aggregate of 4,615,388 shares of common stock for an aggregate purchase price of $30,000,022 at a price of $6.50 per share pursuant to a shelf registration statement on Form S-3.
Background History of Ocean Technology
Prior to the establishment of Mingxiang, Pengfei Liu, our founder, Executive Chairman and CEO of our Company, was engaged in the trading of marine catch from 1983 to 1994, where he bought marine catch from local suppliers and sold them to seafood traders in other regions such as Zhejiang Province.
In March 1994, Mr. Liu, through his company Shishi City Xiangzhi Dabao Seafood Processing Factory, entered into a joint venture with Zhoushan Fishery Processing Factory to establish Mingxiang, to engage in the processing and sale of seafood products. Mingxiang established its place of business close to Xiangzhi (Shishi) Port, which is one of the largest fishing ports in the Fujian Province, occupying premises with a land area of about 3,300 sq. m. Mingxiang then commenced business as a small enterprise processing and supplying roasted file fish to customers in Fujian and Zhejiang Provinces.
Our business grew steadily between 1994 and 1997. In 1997, to protect the goodwill that had been built up for our products sold under our “Mingxiang (明祥)” brand, we registered the “Mingxiang” brand in the PRC as a trademark. The trademark covers marine food products such as dried fish slices, roasted shelled prawns and shredded squid.
In 1998, we added shredded roasted squid to our range of products and expanded our production facilities to occupy a land area of about 8,000 sq. m. At that time, we employed about 40 employees. We also commenced the construction of cold storage facilities occupying a land area of about 2,000 sq. m. and with a storage capacity of 1,000 tons.
In 1999, we completed the construction of our cold storage facilities. The new cold storage facilities increased the shelf-life of and enabled the prolonged storage of the raw materials, works-in-progress and finished products of our processed seafood products. With the cold storage facilities, we became less susceptible to seasonal fluctuations in market demand and supply of raw materials and products. This significantly increased our processed seafood production capacity.
In 2000, we expanded our product range to include roasted prawns. We also acquired an additional land of about 7,300 sq. m. at our business premises to build additional production facilities as well as office and staff dormitory facilities.
Through a series of equity transfers agreements from 1996, Mr. Liu and his spouse Yazuo Qiu acquired full control of Mingxiang in 2001. With the change in shareholders’ control and the expanded scope of business to include export activities, we obtained a new business license for Mingxiang on April 9, 2001. In the same year, we obtained an import-export license from the Fujian Province International Trade Cooperation Bureau. We believe we were one of the first domestic companies in the processed seafood industry in Quanzhou City, Fujian Province to obtain this license. This was a significant milestone in our history as the license allowed us to export these products to foreign markets. In the same year, we commenced the export of our processed seafood products to Japan.
We also established Jixiang in 2001. Jixiang is our property-holding company, and owns the building ownership rights to all our properties save for two properties which are owned by Mingxiang.
All our land use rights and properties, including production plant, cold storage facility, office tower and staff dormitory, are managed by these two property holding companies, Mingxiang and Jixiang. In particular, Mingxiang is responsible for the rental income related to the collection on the 33 shop spaces at our factory in Dabao Industrial Zone. The rental contracts are based on 1-year lease term. The operations of these two property holding companies are solely property management.
In 2002, our “Mingxiang” brand was recognized as a “Fujian Province Famous Brand”. In June of the same year, we commenced our marine catch business, through the chartering of two fishing vessels with an aggregate net tonnage of 44 tons.
In 2003, we commenced the export of our dried processed seafood products to the Russian market. In May 2004, Ocean Technology, a company incorporated in Hong Kong and wholly-owned by Mr. Liu, established Rixiang, a limited liability company with a registered capital of US$1,000,000. Rixiang carried on the main businesses of processing and storage of marine food and marine catch. Since January 2005, Rixiang has been the operating subsidiary of our Company.
In 2003, we also completed the construction of additional cold storage facilities. The new cold storage facilities increased our cold storage capacity from 1,000 tons to 2,020 tons.
We also started selling frozen processed seafood products, which include frozen whole squids and fishes in 2003. Since then, our frozen processed seafood product range has expanded to include readily consumable products, including squid rings and slices and octopus cuts and slices.
In 2003 and 2004, the processing of our frozen seafood products involved only basic processing (such as cleaning, washing, sorting and packing). From 2005, our frozen processed seafood products processes shifted to more advanced processing as we observed a growing market in processed seafood products such as squid slice, octopus cuts, octopus slices and squid rings.
In April 2006, our subsidiary Rixiang entered into a memorandum of understanding for research and development collaboration with the Ocean University of China in order to further develop our product development capabilities.
In November 2009, Mingxiang won the auction for the purchase of the 40-year use right of a land in Shishi City, Fujian. Covering an area of 8,691.4 sq. m., the land is located next to the fishing port and the Registrant’s processing facilities in Shishi City. We plan to build cold storage facilities on the land with a capacity of approximately 20,000 tons. We intend to complete the construction in late 2010. See “Description of Business - Production Facilities and Process.”
In November 2009, Mingxiang entered into a Credit or Share Purchase Option Agreement (the “Option Agreement”) with Qiu Shang Jing, the former sole shareholder of Xianghe. Under the Option Agreement, Mingxiang loaned Xianghe RMB180,500,000 (approximately $26,400,000). In consideration for the loan, Mingxiang received the option to buy shares from Mr. Qiu representing eighty percent (80%) of Xianghe. The purchase price payable to Mr. Qiu consisted of RMB9,500,000 (approximately $1,400,000) payable by Mingxiang and RMB180,500,000 (approximately $26,400,000) payable by Xianghe. On January 1, 2010, Mingxiang exercised its option to acquire eighty percent (80%) of the registered capital stock of Xianghe. In addition to the current distribution network which Xianghe has developed, we intend to integrate the beverage product into Mingxiang’s distribution network. Xianghe began operations in June 2009.
We have grown from a domestic market-oriented seafood enterprise with over 80 employees in 2003 into a medium-sized nationwide seafood enterprise with advanced processing facilities and equipment. As of December 31, 2009, we had 769 employees. Our employees currently include 11 research and development staff.
OUR PRINCIPAL PRODUCTS AND THE MARKET
We are a seafood producer engaged in the processing, distribution and sale of processed seafood products under our “Mingxiang” brand, as well as the sale of marine catch. In 2010, we also became a manufacturer of algae-based soft drinks through our acquisition of Xianghe.
Our business philosophy may be summarized in the following phrase:
“To achieve benefits through innovation, and to develop new markets through branding”
Our dried processed seafood products are predominantly sold under our registered trademark, the “Mingxiang (明祥)” brand. These products are sold through 19 distributors in seven provinces in the PRC such as Fujian, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shandong, Sichuan, Zhejiang and Liaoning and in turn sub-distributed to about 2,200 retail points (including major supermarkets and retailers such as Wal-Mart and Carrefour) throughout these provinces. In September 2009, we reached agreement with a Hong Kong-based confectionary store chain which will use our seafood snack foods exclusively for a private label program for chain’s planned 300 store roll-out in the PRC in 2009. Our frozen processed seafood products are sold to both domestic and overseas customers. Our marine catch is sold to overseas customers and distributors in Fujian, Shandong and Liaoning provinces, some of whom directly export the marine catch to South Korea and Taiwan.
Our business premises are located close to Xiangzhi (Shishi) Port, the largest fishing port in Fujian province and one of the state-level fishing port centers. We have also been designated as a state base for the quality control testing of marine products in Fujian Province.
Our branded “Hi-Power” algae-based soft beverage product was developed by the Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute Chinese Academy of Fishery Science in coordination with Xianghe’s founder, Qiu Shang Jing. Hi-Power beverage is marketed as a high-protein drink, low in calories and fat. Our target market focuses on middle class health-conscious consumers in China’s fast-growing beverage market. We have developed a network of exclusive distributors in Fujian, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Hunan provinces in China, which sell our Hi-Power beverage product to retail food stores, restaurant food supply dealer and hospitality industry in their respective distribution territories.
Our objective is to establish ourselves as a leading producer of processed seafood and algae-based soft drink products in the PRC and overseas markets.
Processed Seafood Products
Using a combination of Japanese traditional seafood processing methods and modern scientific seafood processing techniques, our product development efforts during the period under review have yielded 25 processed seafood products comprising dried seafood products such as roasted squid, roasted file fish, roasted prawns, shredded roasted squid, smoked eel, barbecued squid, sliced barbecued squid, sliced roasted octopus, spicy sliced octopus, spicy baby squid, spicy sliced squid and spicy squid head as well as frozen processed seafood products. Our frozen processed seafood products include frozen Japanese butter fish, frozen octopus and frozen squid rings. Our production facilities are located at Dabao Industrial Zone, Xiangzhi Town, Shishi City, Fujian Province, occupying a total land area of 17,600 sq. m. This includes cold storage facilities with a total storage capacity of 2,020 tons. We have five production lines for the processing of our roasted file fish, roasted prawns, shredded roasted squid, roasted squid and smoked seafood products and one production line for frozen processed seafood products.
We have established sales networks in various large and medium sized cities in the PRC and our export markets, such as Japan, Philippines, Ukraine and Papua New Guinea.. We believe our products are sold by some of our distributors to end-consumers in South Korea and Taiwan. Our dried processed seafood products are mainly sold in supermarkets in Fujian and Zhejiang Provinces and their surrounding areas, and through our sales network through 19 distributors, each of whom have its own sales network and are authorized by us to distribute our products exclusively in a specific vicinity.
Our sales to domestic and foreign markets for the fiscal years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007 are set out below:
Dried Processed Seafood Products
Frozen Processed Seafood Products
(1) These comprise sales to local distributors made on an ad hoc basis.
(2) These comprise sales to foreign distributors.
Our dried processed seafood products are predominantly sold under our registered trademark, the “Mingxiang” brand.
A portion of our frozen processed seafood products are consumed directly by end-consumers with little or no additional processing. All our dried and frozen processed seafood products are manufactured free of preservatives. We use ingredients such as sugar, salt and spices in the production of our dried processed seafood products. The raw materials for our processed seafood products are obtained through fresh marine catch and not from seafood breeding farms.
We have obtained the “Green Food” awards in respect of our roasted file fish, frozen fish, roasted king prawns and shredded squid. We are committed to the highest standards of quality control in the production of our processed seafood products, as evidenced by our ISO9001, ISO14001, HACCP certification and the EU export registration.
Our credit-worthiness, quality and processed seafood products have received considerable acknowledgement and favorable feedback from the public. Please refer to the section “Awards and Certification” for further details of the awards and certifications that we have received.
Today, our products are exported to many countries including Japan, Philippines, Ukraine and Papua New Guinea. We are a State-designated base for quality assurance testing of marine products. Please see the section “Quality Assurance” for more details.
In 2006 and 2007, we engaged in the sale of marine catch. We worked with local fishermen and chartered six fishing vessels with an aggregate net tonnage of 256 tons, to harvest marine catch from the East China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. Our marine catch was harvested from the deep seas and was not bred through aquaculture.
The marine catch was sold to overseas customers and seafood traders in Fujian, Shandong and Liaoning provinces, the PRC, some of whom directly export the marine catch to South Korea and Taiwan. To preserve the freshness of the marine catch sold to our customers, we constantly packed the harvested marine catch in ice and endeavored to deliver the marine catch to our customers within the shortest time practicable. Upon the return of the vessels to Xiangzhi (Shishi) Port, a small proportion of the marine catch was sold to our customers at Xiangzhi (Shishi) Port itself, and the rest was transported back to our business premises at Dabao Industrial Zone, Xiangzhi Town, Shishi City, Fujian Province for further sorting and packing. Thereafter, most of our marine catch was collected by our customers at our business premises, and a small proportion was transported to our customers at their respective destinations.
Due to the nature of the fishing operations, the size of a customer’s order typically depends on the volume of marine catch that the fishing vessels harvest in a fishing trip. A customer therefore typically places an order only after receiving information as to the volume of marine catch harvested in a fishing trip. Our marine catch is priced based on market price, fishing yield and seasonality. We believe these factors do not cause substantial fluctuations in the prices of our marine catch.
Starting from 2008, we did not charter any fishing vessels nor harvest the marine catch ourselves. Instead, we buy the marine catch from the suppliers and then sell to the customers on a direct basis. The marine catch is predominantly sold to overseas customers and distributors in Fujian, Shandong and Liaoning provinces, some of whom directly export the marine catch to South Korea and Taiwan.
Our products can be divided into three main categories, namely (1) processed seafood products; (2) marine catch; and (3) “Hi-Power”algae-based beverage product. The production of the processed seafood products and marine catch are undertaken by our subsidiary, Rixiang and the production of algae-based beverage product is undertaken by our subsidiary, Xianghe.
The following table sets out some of our main products, as well as the main markets in which they are sold:
Processed Seafood Products
We purchase fresh seafood, the primary ingredient from which our dried and frozen processed seafood products are manufactured, from fishermen and traders. Our raw materials are stored in cold storage facilities located at our production facilities. The production processes of our dried and frozen processed seafood products are described in further detail under the section “Production Facilities and Process”.
Dried Processed Seafood Products
The main dried processed seafood products manufactured by us are roasted file fish, shredded roasted squid, roasted squid, roasted prawn and smoked eel.
The ingredients used in the production of our dried processed seafood products are fresh seafood (such as fish, prawns and cuttlefish), natural flavoring, sugar, salt and spices.
Frozen Processed Seafood Products
Our frozen processed seafood products comprise cuttlefish, octopus, pomfret, shelled prawns and sliced squid. Some of our frozen seafood products (such as cuttlefish and squid) are packaged and can be consumed without additional processing. Our other frozen processed seafood products are intermediate products sold to our customers for further processing before sale to the end-consumer. Our frozen processed seafood products are mainly exported to Japan and South Korea directly or through our customers.
The principal species of marine catch harvested in the East China Sea and Taiwan Strait and sold by our Company are as follows:
“Hi-Power” Algae-Based Beverage Product
Production Facilities and Process
The production of our dried and frozen processed seafood products is carried out at our production facilities in Dabao Industrial Zone, Xiangzhi Town, Shishi City, Fujian Province. At December 31, 2009, we own five production lines for the manufacture of dried processed seafood products and one production line for the manufacture of frozen processed seafood products. After the upgrade of our production facilities in 2009, the maximum annual production capacities of our production lines increased to about 19,000 tons of dried processed seafood products and 1,000 tons of frozen processed seafood products. The construction of our new facilities was completed and commenced full operation by the third quarter end of 2009. We also own cold storage facilities with cold storage capacity of 2,020 tons.
On November 6, 2009, Mingxiang won the auction for the purchase of the 40-year use right of a land in Shishi City, Fujian. Covering an area of 8,691.4 sq. m., the land is located next to the fishing port and our processing facilities in Shishi City. The fishing port in Shishi is one of the five largest fishing ports in the PRC. The purchase price for the land use right is RMB 15.55 million ($2.28 million), of which 50% ($1.14 million) will be paid within 20 days and the balance ($1.14 million) within 60 days. We plan to build cold storage facilities on the land with a capacity of approximately 20,000 tons, to take advantage of its proximity to the port where we obtain fresh seafood catch to be processed into seafood products. We intend to finance the total estimated $20 million in land use right and construction costs from funds generated by operations and expect to complete the construction in late 2010. Closing of the acquisition is subject to execution of a formal agreement with the local land and resources department, which agreement was executed in late 2009.
We place great emphasis on quality assurance at every stage of our production process and have clearly defined procedures to manufacture products of consistently high quality. Please refer to the section “Quality Assurance” for more details.
Dried Processed Seafood Products
The key stages of our production process for our dried processed seafood products are as follows:
Samples are taken from each batch of raw materials and sent to the quality control department where physical (e.g. visual inspection), chemical and micro-organism tests are conducted. Raw materials which do not adhere to our requirements are rejected.
Our other ingredients such as salt, sugar and spices are sourced from suppliers within the PRC. They are stored in warehouses or temperature-controlled facilities after inspection and approval.
Our packaging materials are kept in a warehouse after they have been inspected and approved.
Frozen Processed Seafood Products
Part of the production of our frozen processed seafood products is carried out in a sterile sealed production unit. The key stages of our production process for our frozen processed seafood products are as follows:
Packaging materials are kept in a warehouse after they have been inspected and approved.
“Hi-Power” Algae-Based Beverage Product
The key stages of our production process for our “Hi-Power” algae-based beverage products are as follows:
Samples are taken from each batch of raw materials by way of random sampling and sent to the quality control department where physical (e.g. visual inspection), chemical and micro-organism tests are conducted. Raw materials which cannot meet our requirements are rejected.
Awards and Certifications
As testimony to the quality of our products, our credit worthiness in the PRC business community as well as our management capabilities, we have received several awards and certification in the course of our history, as listed below:
Processed Seafood Products
Sales and Marketing
Our sales and marketing team comprises 24 employees, headed by our Executive Chairman, Director and CEO Mr. Pengfei Liu. The team is responsible for monitoring domestic sales, which includes co-coordinating orders from customers as well as distributing our products to the customers.
We have established a wide distribution network which allows us to maintain our competitiveness in the industry. Our products are exported to various countries, including Japan, Philippines, Ukraine and Papua New Guinea. We believe our products are sold by some of our distributors to end-consumers in South Korea and Taiwan.
As of December 31, 2009, we have 19 distributors in seven provinces in the PRC, namely Fujian, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shandong, Zhejiang, Sichuan and Liaoning, as follows:
These distributors in turn sub-distribute our dried processed seafood products to over 2,200 retail points (including major supermarkets and retailers such as Wal-Mart and Carrefour) throughout these provinces.
One of our main considerations when appointing distributors is the purchasing and consumer spending power in the particular region in which we intend to distribute our products.
Before we appoint new distributors or extend the distribution arrangement with existing distributors to distribute our products in a particular region or country, the potential distributor or existing distributor is subject to our stringent selection or review process. We will only appoint distributors who are able to meet our requirements such as sales target.
We select each distributor based on four criteria:
We appoint different distributors for different products in different regions in the PRC and in various overseas markets.
We usually appoint one exclusive distributor to cover a specific county, district, city or province. Under the distributorship agreements, our distributors are obliged to price and sell our products in accordance with the indicative prices which we provide, and are not permitted to arbitrarily adjust the sale price of the products except in accordance with product promotions. The distributors must also duly carry out market operation activities and promotional methods which are jointly developed with us, and to bear the costs of its own advertisements and marketing activities. The distributorship agreements also contain provisions for the protection of our intellectual property rights.
In addition to selling products under our brands, we have also begun to distribute products under private labels. In September 2009, we reached agreement with a Hong Kong based confectionary store chain which used our seafood snack foods exclusively for a private label program for the chain’s planned 300 store roll-out in China in 2009.
For our export sales, we sell our products through sales agents or traders in the PRC or directly to distributors in the overseas market.
Our sales and marketing team is also responsible for marketing our products within the PRC. The team contacts and visits our customers regularly to obtain feedback and suggestions on our products, and to foster and build our relationships with them. We normally sign distributorship agreements with a one-year term. Our agreements stipulate the price range in which the distributors may sell our products and also stipulate sales targets which our distributors have to achieve before the agreements are renewed.
We advertise our products regularly in supermarket brochures, and outdoor billboards. We also participate in exhibitions in the PRC such as the China Export Trade Fair and the China Seafood Exposition, as well as overseas exhibitions such as those in South Korea, Japan and Boston, USA.
“Hi-Power” Algae-Based Beverage Product
Sales and Marketing
Our sales and marketing team comprises 12 employees, headed by our Executive Chairman, Director and CEO Mr. Pengfei Liu. The team is responsible for developing and implementing the Company’s overall development and promotional strategy for our algae-based beverage products, which includes co-coordinating orders from customers as well as distributing our products to the customers.
Xianghe has developed a network of distributors with exclusive territories in Fujian, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Hunan provinces, which sell Hi-Power to retail food stores, restaurant food supply dealers and the hospitality industry and we intend to integrate the beverage product into Mingxiang’s distribution network.
Peptide and Protein Products
On April 28, 2006, our subsidiary Rixiang entered into a memorandum of understanding for collaboration with the Ocean University of China’s Food Sciences and Engineering Institute for the development of: (1) bioactive peptide products from leftovers of aquatic processed products; and (2) collagen protein and collagen peptide protein products from fish skin. For details, please see “Research and Development”.
We operate in a competitive environment and we expect to face more intense competition from our existing competitors and new market entrants in the future. We believe that the principal competitive factors in our industry include, inter alia, brand awareness, product range and quality, customer and supplier relationships, cost and quality of raw materials, technical expertise in production and pricing. Of these factors, we believe that product quality is the most important.
To the best of our knowledge, our principal competitors within the PRC are the following major seafood product manufacturers in the PRC:
There may be companies based in other countries which offer a similar product range as we do but which currently operate in different markets from us. In the future, we may face competition from these companies as we expand into their markets and vice versa.
We believe that our competitive strengths are as follows:
We have established a wide distribution network which allows us to maintain our competitiveness in the industry. We have 19 distributors in seven provinces in the PRC such as Fujian, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shandong, Zhejiang, Sichuan and Liaoning. These distributors in turn sub-distribute our dried processed seafood products to over 2,200 retail points (including major supermarkets and retailers such as Wal-Mart and Carrefour) throughout these provinces. We also have a strong overseas customer base in various countries including Japan, Philippines, Ukraine and Papua New Guinea.
Besides, Xianghe has developed a network of distributors with exclusive territories in Fujian, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Hunan which sell Hi-Power to retail food stores, restaurants food supply dealers and the hospitality industry. We also intend to integrate the Hi-Power algae-based soft drinks into our distribution network.
Please refer to the section “Major Customers” for further details.
We have been involved in the production of processed seafood products since commencing our operations in 1994. Our “Mingxiang” brand has been conferred the “Famous Brand” award. In addition, we have also obtained the “Green Food” award in respect of our roasted file fish, shredded roasted squid, roasted king prawn and frozen fish products. This attests to the established standing of our “Mingxiang” brand and the high quality of our products. We have also received several other awards and accreditations as described in the section “Awards and Certifications”. We believe such accolades attest to our established reputation in the industry.
We also believe that our established track record in the processed seafood industry instills confidence in our products and attracts new customers from South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Ukraine and Papua New Guinea, and potential customers from the European Union. Our stable customer base and large distributor network in Fujian province and Zhejiang province have enabled our Company to introduce new products into these markets in a shorter time and gain quicker market acceptance and recognition.
We use fresh seafood as the primary ingredient for our processed seafood products. Our superior recipes and production know-how enable us to develop and produce products with high-quality taste and texture and which are well-received by end-consumers.
We have been awarded HACCP certification and have obtained the EU export registration, which enable us to export our products to the US and the EU, respectively. In addition, our products, namely our roasted file fish, shredded roasted squid, roasted squid, roasted prawn and frozen fish have been certified as “Green Food”, a recognition that the production of our products is carried out under certain sanitary conditions with limited use of chemical additives. We believe we are one of the first companies in the seafood industry in Fujian Province to be awarded this certification, which is a further testament to the quality of our products.
Our Company is led by our Executive Chairman and CEO, Pengfei Liu, who has more than 30 years of experience in the seafood industry. Mr. Liu’s drive and passion have been instrumental in our success to-date. He has conceptualized and implemented our strategies in the past and successfully led us in our transition from a small and local seafood enterprise to a nationwide seafood enterprise with advanced seafood processing facilities.
Mr. Liu is ably supported by a team of experienced managers, most of whom have an average of five to ten years’ experience in their respective fields. These personnel support our Executive Chairman and CEO in charting and managing our growth. We believe the members of our procurement team have a strong grasp and good understanding of industry trends, market cycles and seasonal factors, and have the ability to discern and procure high-quality seafood at reasonable prices.
The management team receives regular training in the course of our Company obtaining and renewing our ISO and HACCP qualifications. The training, which is conducted over 10 to 15 days every year, involves process management, quality control, sanitary and hygiene operating procedures and standards. We believe that such training raises our competence and environmental / sanitary awareness, and places us in an advantageous position compared to other operators in the seafood industry who do not undergo such training.
Besides, Hi-Power was developed by the Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences in coordination with the founder, Qiu Shang Jing, who has been engaged in the natural algae industry for over 10 years time and he has a profound expertise on algae products. In addition, Xianghe has an experienced management team and its management and other employees will continue to work at Xianghe after the acquisition.
We have maintained close working relationships with our customers who are reputable distributors of processed seafood products. Our relationships with some of our PRC customers and distributors have been established for more than ten years. In particular, we have enjoyed good relationships with, among others, Qingdao Haizhan Seafood Co., Ltd. (“Qingdao Haizhan”), Wenzhou Rixin Foodstuff Co., Ltd. (“Wenzhou Rixin”), and Zhejiang Ruian Laodu Seafood Wholesale Proprietor (“Zhejiang Ruian Laodu”), for an average of approximately 8 years.
Qingdao Haizhan is in the business of distributing dried and frozen seafood products. To the best of our knowledge, Qingdao Haizhan has a distribution network of over 1,000 retailers and a sales workforce of about 60 people.
Wenzhou Rixin is a distributor of dried seafood in Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province. To the best of our knowledge, Wenhou Rixin has a distribution network of about 1,000 retailers and a sales workforce of about 60 people.
Zhejiang Ruian Laodu is a large distributor of dried seafood in Ruian City, Zhejiang Province. To the best of our knowledge, Zhejiang Ruian Laodu has a distribution network of about 300 retailers and a sales workforce of about 20 people.
Regarding the percentage of sales represented by each party listed above; please refer to the section “Major Customers” for details.
We view our customers as long-term business partners who are important in the strategic growth of our operations and broadening the geographic reach of our products.
We are based in Fujian Province which is situated in southeast China on the coast of the East China Sea. Fujian is one of the nine coastal provinces in the PRC and is a vital navigation hub between the East China Sea and the South China Sea. It is also rich in agricultural and marine resources.
Our main raw materials for our marine catch business come from the Taiwan Strait, which is also where we conduct our marine catch operations. The Taiwan Strait is rich in marine resources. Our business operations and production facilities are located at Shishi City, Fujian Province, where Xiangzhi (Shishi) Port has been designated as one of the national-level fishing ports. It is the largest port in Fujian province and is one of the five largest fishing ports in the PRC in terms of supply of marine catch and tonnage of fishing vessels. Fujian province is rich in agricultural and marine resources, which enables our procurement of raw materials for our processed seafood business at low cost. We believe our strategic location gives us access to an abundant supply of fresh marine products and hence allows us to manage our costs more effectively.
We place strong emphasis on the quality of our products and on our ability to develop new products. To ensure that our products are well-received by our customers and consumers, we have carried out research and development to improve the taste, texture and packaging of our processed seafood products. Through our research and development efforts, we have developed new products and improved the quality of our existing products, which have been well-received by our customers and consumers. These products include our crispy fish-bone snacks, roasted squid and roasted prawns, spicy sliced octopus, spicy baby squid, spicy sliced squid and spicy squid head.
Our strong product development capabilities allow us to constantly introduce new products into the market and maintain consumer interest and loyalty in our “Mingxiang” brand products. We believe that our strategic collaboration with the Ocean University of China will further strengthen our research and development capabilities.
Besides, Hi-Power was developed by the Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences in coordination with the founder. We will leverage the strong research and development capabilities from the Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences together with the Ocean University of China on product development going forward.
We have been designated as a quality assurance testing base by the National Marine Foods Quality Supervision Testing Centre and our testing base is the only assessment base in the southern provinces of the PRC. We test the hygiene and quality of ingredients and products according to industrial standards. Our testing base caters to seafood processing companies from Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi and Zhejiang Provinces, the PRC. We believe our role in quality assurance testing further strengthens our reputation as a producer of quality processed seafood products.
For the above reasons, we believe that we will be able to maintain our market position and competitive edge over our competitors.
The following table sets out our five major suppliers of raw materials for processed seafood products and marine catch for the years ended December 31, 2009, 2008, and 2007:
Trading in fresh fish and other seafood is mainly carried out by individual fishermen, who ply their trade in and around various fishing ports in Shishi City, Fujian Province. The above major suppliers are fish and seafood traders in markets in and surrounding Shishi City, Fujian Province. We procure from these suppliers for fresh fish and other seafood, which are used as raw materials in the production of our processed seafood products. These suppliers also supply fresh fish and other seafood to other companies.
Before 2005, we mainly sourced for supplies of fresh fish and other seafood directly from various fishermen when their trawlers docked at the ports. For convenience and greater savings in procurement expenses, from 2005 onwards we sourced our supplies from major suppliers only. Therefore the percentage of our purchases from the major suppliers has increased significantly since 2005.
Though certain of our major suppliers accounted for more than 8% of our total purchases individually for the fiscal years ended December 31, 2009, we believe we are able to source our raw materials from alternative suppliers should the need arise.
The following table sets out our five major suppliers of purchases for the production of algae-based beverage product for the years ended December 31, 2009:
None of our directors, executive officers and controlling shareholders is related to or has any interest in any of our major suppliers listed above. To the best of our knowledge, save as disclosed above, none of our major suppliers is related to or has any interest in one another, and none of our major suppliers is related to or has any interest in the customers stated in the section “Major Customers” below.
The following table sets out our major customers accounting for 5.0% or more of our Company’s sales of processed seafood products and marine catch for the year ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007:
The following table sets out our major customers accounting for 5.0% or more of the company’s sales of algae-based beverage product for the year ended December 31, 2009.
None of our directors, executive officers and controlling shareholders is related to or has any interest in any of our major customers listed above. To the best of our knowledge, save as disclosed above, none of our major customers is related to or has any interest in one another, and none of our major customers is related to or has any interest in the suppliers stated in the section “Major Suppliers”. We are not dependent on any one of our major customers as we are able to sell our fresh fish and seafood range, as well as our processed dried seafood products to other customers.
Except as disclosed below, we are not dependent on nor do we own any registered trademark or patent or any other intellectual property rights:
Our brand name distinguishes our products from that of our competitors and increase consumer awareness of our products. We have currently registered the following trademarks:
We intend to further develop our “Mingxiang” brand image in the markets where we currently operate, and to promote it in new markets. In that regard, we intend to apply for registration of our trademark in the overseas markets where we conduct our sales, as we consider appropriate.
Registered Packaging Designs
We hold registered packaging designs in respect of the packaging of the majority of our processed seafood products. The details are as follows:
As at December 31, 2009, we are in the process of application for roasted prawn, roasted file fish and barbecued squid for their respective registered packaging designs.
Save as disclosed above, our business or profitability is not materially dependent on any other trademarks, copyrights, registered designs, patents, grant of licenses from third parties, new manufacturing processes and intellectual property rights.
The following is a description of the material licenses and permits issued to companies in our Company in order for us to carry out our operations, other than those pertaining to general business registration requirements:
We view hygiene control as a critical aspect of food production operations and place great emphasis on the hygienic preparation of our processed seafood products to ensure they are safe for consumption. We have received the following hygiene certificates in relation to our operations:
Other Licenses and Permits
Our other licenses and permits are as follows:
Save as disclosed above, as at the date of this Form 10-K, our business or profitability is not materially dependent on any other licenses and permits.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
We believe that constant innovation in developing new processes and products that are well-received by consumers is vital to our continued success. As of December 31, 2009, our research and development team comprised 11 personnel. The focus of our research and development is directed towards satisfying the preferences of consumers, with the following objectives:
Our main research and development activities include: (1) experimenting with various small fish species for the production of fish mash, (2) improving the taste and texture of our dried processed seafood products, (3) finding new uses for leftovers such as fish heads, prawn heads and shells which would otherwise be disposed, (4) developing natural high energy beverage using advanced bio-engineering technology, and (5) developing new products, including marine health products. Our research and development efforts enable us to develop efficient production processes which lower the cost of production, yet produce superior-quality products.
Some of the highlights of our research and development activities are set out below.
Through our research and development activities, we have developed products which have been well-received by consumers and improved our production processes. We have through our research and development introduced 25 new processed seafood products, including smoked eel, Sakura squid, sliced squid, spicy sliced octopus, spicy baby squid, spicy sliced squid and spicy squid head. We believe that our constant product innovation has led to our increasing reputation as a producer of processed natural seafood products.
Collaboration with Ocean University of China
On April 28, 2006, our subsidiary Rixiang entered into a memorandum of understanding for collaboration with the Ocean University of China’s Food Sciences and Engineering Institute. The Ocean University of China is one of the renowned institutions in the PRC for ocean studies. The collaboration with Ocean University of China will allow us to tap into its technical know-how, to acquire new technical knowledge and processing techniques. In turn, we serve as a research base of the research and development work of Ocean University of China. We believe that we will benefit from the exchange of information and technological know-how.
The collaboration with Ocean University of China since April 2006 have been focused on developing new products and by-products from raw marine catch used in the processing of seafood products, in particular (1) the development of bioactive peptide products from leftovers of aquatic processed products; and (2) the development of collagen protein and collagen peptide protein products from fish skin:
Bioactive peptide protein found in aquatic products is used to produce angiogenesis converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. ACE is a compound which increases the pressure within blood vessels, thereby causing high blood pressure. An ACE inhibitor helps slow the activity of the ACE. Using Bioactive peptide protein developed ACE inhibitors avoids the harmful side effects associated with using synthetic medicine for lowering hypertension.
This technique involves the extraction of collagen protein from fish skin. The collagen protein is then converted into marine biological collagen peptide protein using a directional enzyme hydrolysis technology and velum separation technology. Fish-skin collagen protein is mainly used as an ingredient for cosmetic products and health food products. We note that some cosmetics manufacturers have begun to use marine biological collagen peptide protein and collagen protein in their products.
The Ocean University of China would provide technical and training support in the development of production techniques and commercialization of the above said products. The research and development activities are conducted at our production facilities at Dabao Industrial Zone, Xiangzhi Town, Shishi City, Fujian Province.
Hi-Power was developed by the Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences in coordination with the founder, Qiu Shang Jing, who has been engaged in the natural algae industry for over 10 years time and he has a profound expertise on algae products.
Our research and development expenses amounted to approximately $237,000, $87,000 and $33,000 for 2009, 2008 and 2007, respectively. Research and development expenses are presented as part of general and administrative expenses in the financial statements.
We believe that the quality of our products is the key to our continued growth and success. We place great emphasis on quality assurance and the consistent quality of our products at all stages of our production processes. We attribute our success to date to our commitment to and production of quality products. As such, we believe that good quality control has been a key competitive strength of our Company. Our aim is that our “Mingxiang” brand should continue to be identified with tasty and high-quality processed marine seafood products.
As a testimony to our commitment to quality products and processes, we have been awarded the following awards and certifications:
Please refer to the section “Awards and Certifications” for further details of awards and certifications which we have obtained in respect of our products. To attain and maintain these accreditations, we have set up a quality control program in accordance with ISO9001:2008 standards. We have a comprehensive document management system in respect of our quality control system manuals, program documents, records and related documentation, which encompasses issuance, amendment, filing, recovery and destruction of the documents. Our quality control measures are designed to ensure we meet the standards under Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (“SSOP”), Good Manufacturing Practice (“GMP”) and HACCP quality assurance systems, production control and product quality specifications. SSOP is an action plan that details procedures to maintain sanitary conditions throughout a food processing facility. This includes procedures on food handling and sanitation practices such as proper thawing methods, prevention of contamination and certain aspects of employee and environmental hygiene. GMP includes regulations promulgated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under the authority of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which requires manufacturers, processors and packagers of drugs, medical devices and food to take proactive steps to ensure that their products are safe, pure and effective.
Our quality control program requires our employees to undergo training conducted internally in relation to our quality control policies, targets and procedures, as well as production and processing techniques and operational procedures.
We have established the following quality control procedures to ensure the high standard of quality of our processed seafood products:
All incoming raw materials are inspected and approved by our quality control department. The quality control checks include hygiene, freshness and safety checks and dimensional checks (for packaging materials) to ensure that the raw materials conform to our health, freshness and safety standards and required specifications. Inspection is carried out by way of random sampling. Samples are extracted from each batch of raw materials and sent to the quality control department, where physical and chemical tests are conducted in our laboratory.
Raw materials that pass the quality control checks are then sent for storage in the cold storage facilities until they are required in the production process.
At each stage in the production process, we have quality inspectors who are responsible for sieving out inferior products, and to do random selection of products for testing in our laboratory. In our laboratory, these samples are tested for micro-organisms and to ensure that they fulfill hygiene and safety standards. Our machinery and equipment are also inspected regularly to ensure that they are in good working condition.
The finished products undergo a final round of inspection before they are sent to the warehouse for storage to await delivery to our customers. Random samples are selected and brought to our laboratory for testing to ensure that they fulfill hygiene, safety and product standards. In respect of product standards, for example, we test our dried processed products to ensure that there is adequate but not excessive water content. Our finished products also go through a specially calibrated metal detector to ensure that products are not contaminated by metal particles from the production equipment.
Our quality control department is also responsible for after-sales service, to address customers’ feedback or complaints.
Quality Assurance Testing Base
In January 2001, we were designated as a quality assurance testing base by the National Marine Foods Quality Supervision Testing Centre. The National Marine Foods Quality Supervision Testing Centre was established in 1986 and is based in Qingdao City, Shandong Province. This testing body is responsible for quality testing of the state’s designated products, research and development and grading of marine products, including fresh, frozen, dried and pickled marine processed products. As a designated testing base, we test the hygiene and quality of ingredients and products according to industrial standards. Our testing base caters to seafood processing companies from Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi and Zhejiang provinces, all in the PRC. We believe that we benefit in the provision of such services, as we are kept informed of industry news and technological developments. Currently we do not charge a fee for such services.
ENVIRONMENTAL LAW COMPLIANCE
On December 15, 2005, we received a Certificate of Environment Management System, certifying that we have been assessed and are in compliance with the environment management standard ISO14001: 2004. The scope of certification is for the production and the relative environmental management activity of fish, shrimp and other marine food. The registration number of the certificate is 00108E20847ROM/3502. The certificate is renewed in 2008 which is valid until November 26, 2011.
When our production plant was constructed, it was designed to comply with these environmental laws by directly disposing of the use water to a nearby sewage treatment plant for further handling. Because our production plant was built to comply with these environmental laws, we are not required to pay for any ongoing fees to the sewage treatment plant, nor has there been any material effects on our capital expenditures, earnings and competitive position.
Since China does not have additional environmental regulations dealing with climate change that apply to our operations, we have not planned material capital expenditures for environmental control facilities or changes in our business practices specific to climate change.
We set out below the total number of our employees and the various functions which they serve with respect to our processed seafood and marine catch products as at December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007, respectively.
Almost all of our employees are based in the PRC. Our PRC permanent employees are unionized. We have not experienced any strikes, labor disputes or work stoppages by our employees and believe our relationship with our employees is good.
As of December 31, 2009, we had 769 employees.
We set out below the total number of employees and the various functions which they serve with respect to the algae-based beverage product as at December 31, 2009.
As of December 31, 2009, Xianghe had 21 employees.
We view our human resource as one of our key assets and place great emphasis on staff training that not only imparts job skills but also inculcates desirable working attitudes.
Therefore, our employees at all levels are required to undergo training relevant for their positions. The training includes technical training which is conducted by both internal and external trainers. Training aspects include quality control, export trading procedures, permits, quality standards and compliance with quality standards, as well as management training.
In addition, a new employee undergoes orientation on hygiene requirements, compliance with company policies and procedures as well as the required technical skills before taking up his appointment.
Website Access to our SEC Reports
You may obtain a copy of the following reports, free of charge through the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov as soon as reasonably practicable after electronically filing them with, or furnishing them to, the SEC: our previous Annual Reports on Form 10-K; our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q; our Current Reports on Form 8-K; and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the "Exchange Act"). Our Internet website and the information contained therein or connected thereto are not intended to be incorporated into this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
The public may also read and copy any materials filed with the SEC at the SEC's Public Reference Room at 100 F Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20549. The Public Reference Room may be contact at (800) SEC-0330. You may also access our other reports via that link to the SEC website.
ITEM 1A. Risk Factors
RISKS RELATED TO OUR BUSINESS
We are dependent on the supply of fresh seafood in our production of processed seafood products and disruptions in the supply of fresh seafood could adversely affect our business operations.
We use fresh seafood as the primary ingredient in our processed seafood products. Our processed seafood products accounted for approximately 74.8%, 90.9% and 76.5% of our sales in the fiscal years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007, respectively. Our production of processed seafood products is largely dependent on the continuous supply of fresh seafood, which in turn could be affected by a large number of factors, including environmental factors, the availability of seafood stock, weather conditions, the policies and regulations of the governments of the relevant territories where such fishing is carried out, the ability of the fishing companies and fishermen that supply us to continue their operations and pressure from environmental or animal rights groups.
Specifically, fishing activities in waters around the PRC are restricted in certain months to ensure sustainable aquatic resources. In particular, the PRC Ministry of Agriculture imposes restrictions against fishing in the South China Sea in the months of June and July. There is no assurance that the PRC government may not impose more stringent fishing regulations, including but not limited to longer or more frequent periods that restrict fishing. Such restrictions against fishing or unfavorable weather conditions have a direct impact on the availability of the raw materials required for the production of our processed seafood products, and could lead to a shortage and/or an increase in the prices of our raw materials. Any shortage in the supply of or increase in the prices of the raw materials for our processed seafood products will adversely affect our business, profitability and financial condition.
Our profitability will be affected by fluctuations in the prices of our major raw materials.
Our financial performance may be affected by changes in production costs brought about by fluctuations in the prices of our raw materials. Our major raw materials are fresh seafood which accounted for approximately 74.4%, 77.9% and 74.3% of our total cost of sales of processed seafood products in the fiscal years ended December, 2009, 2008 and 2007, respectively. The prices of our major raw materials may fluctuate due to changes in supply and demand conditions. Any shortage in supply or upsurge in demand of our major raw materials may lead to an increase in prices, which may adversely affect our profitability due to increased production costs and lower profit margins.
We are dependent on five major customers. In the event any one of these major customers ceases to purchase or reduce their purchases from us, and we are unable to secure new contracts, our sales will be adversely affected.
Our top five major customers accounted for approximately 43.2%, 44.9% and 45.8% of our sales in the fiscal years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007, respectively. In the event this customer does not continue to purchase from us or reduce its purchases from us or develop its own ability to manufacture the products that we sell to it, and we are unable to secure new contracts or new customers that can replace the loss of this one customer within a short time frame, our business and profitability may be adversely affected. Please see the section “Major Customers” for more details.
We are dependent on five major suppliers for our raw materials. In the event we are no longer able to secure raw materials from these suppliers and are unable to find alternative sources of supply at similar or more competitive rates, our operations and profitability will be adversely affected.
For the production of our processed seafood products, we rely on our major suppliers for a significant portion of the supply of fresh seafood. Purchases from our top five suppliers of raw materials accounted for 90.3%, 90.8% and 89.9% of our total purchases of raw materials in the fiscal years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007, respectively. In the event that we are unable to secure our raw materials from these suppliers and we are unable to find alternative sources of supply at similar or more competitive rates, our business and operations will be adversely affected. Please see the section “Major Suppliers” for more details.
A significant portion of our business activities may be transacted in cash and our internal controls in relation to cash management may not be able to address all the risks associated with the handling of cash and cash transactions.
Due to the nature of our business, our procurement of raw materials is fully transacted on a cash basis and a significant portion of our sales are transacted in cash. Our cash payment for the procurement of raw materials accounted for the whole of our total cost of sales for each of the fiscal years ended December 31, 2006 and 2005. Starting from 2007, we have requested our major suppliers to open bank accounts and thus we could settle the purchases through bank instructions. Sales transacted in cash accounted for 2.0%, 2.0% and 1.6% of our total sales for the fiscal years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007 respectively.
The internal controls in relation to cash management that we have put in place may not be able to address all the risks associated with the handling of cash and cash transactions. We may therefore be exposed to risks such as loss, theft, misappropriation and forgery of the cash used in our transactions. In the event such risks materialize, our financial position, business and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.
Our profitability and continued growth is dependent on our ability to yield commercially viable products, to enhance our product range and expand our customer base.
The seafood processing industry is highly competitive. The growth potential of the seafood processing industry is dependant on population growth and consumer preferences. therefore believe that our profitability and continued growth is dependant on our ability to expand our customer base in existing and new markets by introducing new products that are fast growing and profitable in the populations that we serve, as well as our ability to develop commercially viable products through our product development efforts. If we do not succeed in these efforts, the growth of our sales may slow down and adversely affect our profitability. Please refer to the section “Research and Development” for further details of our research and development efforts.
Since we do not have long-term contracts with our suppliers and customers there is no guarantee that our suppliers will continue to supply us with raw materials, or that our customers will continue to purchase our products.
We do not have long-term contracts with our suppliers and our customers. Accordingly, there can be no assurance that we will continue to be able to obtain sufficient quantities of raw materials in a timely manner from our existing suppliers on acceptable terms, or that our existing customers will continue to purchase our products on terms that are acceptable to us or at all. In the event that we are unable to source for new suppliers or new customers on terms that are acceptable to us, our business and operations will be adversely affected.
We may be exposed to potential risks relating to our internal controls over financial reporting and our ability to have those controls attested to by our independent auditors.
As directed by Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 or SOX 404, the SEC adopted rules requiring public companies to include a report of management on the company’s internal controls over financial reporting in their annual reports, including Form 10-K. We have established disclosure controls and procedures effective for the purposes set forth in the definition thereof in Exchange Act Rule 13a-15(e) as of December 31, 2009. Commencing by the fiscal year ended December 31, 2010, the independent registered public accounting firm auditing a company’s financial statements must also attest to and report on management’s assessment of the effectiveness of the company’s internal controls over financial reporting as well as the operating effectiveness of the company’s internal controls. However, there can be no assurance that we will receive a positive attestation from our independent auditors. In the event we are unable to receive a positive attestation from our independent auditors with respect to our internal controls, investors and others may lose confidence in the reliability of our financial statements. Also projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree or compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.
There is no assurance that we will be able to execute our future plans successfully, or that our future plans will result in commercial success.
We intend to, inter alia and expand our operations and production capacity in the PRC by constructing new cold storage facilities. While the new production facilities were completed in 2009, there can be no assurance that the construction of, the new cold storage facilities will be completed by the end of 2010 as expected. Our expansion plans involve a number of risks, including inter alia the costs of investment in fixed assets, costs of working capital tied up in inventories, as well as other working capital requirements. Our expansion will also depend on our ability to secure new customers and/or sufficient orders. Failure to secure new customers or sufficient orders or to meet our customers’ orders would materially and adversely affect our business and financial performance. There is no assurance that our future plans will result in commercial success. If we are unable to execute our expansion plans successfully, our business and financial performance would be materially and adversely affected.
Changes in consumer preferences or discretionary consumer spending could adversely impact our results.
Our continued growth and success depends in part on the popularity of our products. Sales of our processed seafood products and marine catch as a percentage of our total sales for the period under review were as follows:
Shifts in consumer preferences or eating habits away from processed seafood products will materially affect our business. In addition, our continued success depends, in general, on the economic conditions, disposable income and consumer confidence in the countries in which we sell our products, all of which can affect discretionary consumer spending in such countries. Adverse changes in these factors would reduce the flow of customers and limit our pricing which will reduce our profitability.
Our business activities are subject to certain laws and regulations and our operations may be affected if we should fail to have in force the requisite licenses and permits.
We are required to obtain various licenses and permits in order to conduct our business of production and export of processed seafood products. These include the Hygiene Registration Certificate, which is a requirement in order to carry on the production of food products in the PRC, as well as the HACCP certificate and EU export registration, which is a requirement in order to export our processed seafood products to certain countries. Our business is also subject to applicable laws and regulations. Please see the section “Government Regulations” of this Form 10-K for a summary of the material laws and regulations that apply to our Company.
Any failure to comply with the conditions stipulated in our licenses and permits may lead to their revocation or non-renewal. Any failure to observe the applicable laws and regulations may lead to the termination or suspension of some or all of our business activities or penalties being imposed on us. The occurrence of any of these events may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our processed seafood products may be illegally tampered with such that they are rendered unfit for consumption and have to be recalled and destroyed.
Our processed seafood products are packed in plastic materials that can be illegally tampered with. Illegal tampering of our processed seafood products could result in such products being rendered unfit for consumption or cause them to fail to meet customer specifications, health and/or safe handling requirements. This may lead to a loss of customer confidence in our products; affect our reputation, cause product recalls and/or product destruction. In addition, we may incur substantial litigation costs and may be ordered to compensate consumers in the event of any illness or death caused by the consumption of an illegally tampered seafood product.
In the event that our processed seafood products are recalled or destroyed as a result of illegal tampering or a claim is made against us arising from the consumption of our products, our reputation, business goodwill and sales will be adversely affected.
Product or raw material deterioration will lead to loss of sales, higher costs, negative publicity, and payment of compensation to our customers and/or product liability claims.
Our raw materials and frozen processed seafood products, being perishable in nature, may deteriorate due to various reasons such as malfunctioning cold storage facilities, delivery delays or poor handling. This may lead to a delay in production or delivery of our products, a loss in revenue, costs incurred in the purchase of replacement raw materials and payment of compensation to our customers. Any deterioration in our raw materials or processed seafood products could have a material adverse effect on our business, operations and reputation.
Currently, we do not have any product liability insurance in respect of our products. We believe that premiums for product liability insurances are high compared to the risk of claims. In the event that the consumption of our processed seafood products causes harm, illness or death to a consumer of our products, whether as a result of product deterioration, spoiling, sabotage, willful action, omission or negligence, we may be liable to complaints, lawsuits and claims from consumers of our products which in turn could generate negative publicity and materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and our operations.
Outbreak of disease or widespread contamination in any of the raw materials that we use in our production or any food scares may lead to a loss in consumer confidence and reduce the demand for our processed seafood products.
One of our competitive strengths is our established brand name and track record. We have received several awards and certificates for our high quality products, including the “Green Food” award. Any outbreak of disease or widespread contamination in any of the raw materials that we use in the production of our products or food scares in the markets in which our processed seafood products are manufactured or sold may have an adverse impact on our business as it may lead to a loss in consumer confidence and reduce the demand of our processed seafood products. It may also affect our sources of supply and we may have to look for alternative sources of supply which may be more costly, or which may not be available. If this develops into actual events, our operations and profitability will be adversely affected.
Any failure to meet health and hygiene standards may result in the suspension of licenses, accreditations or the loss of our ability to import and export our products.
We are subject to annual checks carried out by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the PRC (CIQ). The CIQ’s annual check encompasses the inspection of food preparation, production and processing operations, as well as health checks on our employees. Failure to meet the required standards may result in our being required to take remedial measures to meet the health and hygiene standards, or in extreme cases, the cancellation or suspension of the license(s) and accreditation(s) required for us to carry on our operations. In the event that this should occur, our operations and financial condition will be materially and adversely affected and could lead to a loss in customer confidence in our products.
In addition, the CIQ makes random inspections on the processed seafood products that we export. Failure to meet the required standards of hygiene may affect our ability to export our processed seafood products and meet our customers’ orders on time. It may also lead to a restriction on our ability to export our processed seafood products which will materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and operations.
We bear the risk of loss in shipment of our products and have no insurance to cover such loss.
Under the shipping terms of our standard customer contracts, we bear the risk of loss in shipment of our products and do not insure this risk. Since management considers the risk of loss to be minimal, with export sales representing less than 5% of our total sales for the year ended December 31, 2009 and 2008, respectively. Moreover, we believe that the shipping companies that we use carry adequate insurance or are sufficiently solvent to cover any loss in shipment. Nevertheless, there can be no assurance that we will be adequately reimbursed upon the loss of a significant shipment of our products.
We are dependent on our Executive Directors and Executive Officers. Any loss in their services without suitable replacement may adversely affect our operations.
Our success to date has been largely due to the contribution of Pengfei Liu, our Executive Chairman and CEO. Mr. Liu is the founder of our Company, and has spearheaded our expansion and growth. He is responsible for our operations, marketing, public relations, strategic planning and development of new products and markets. Our continued success is dependent, to a large extent, on our ability to retain his services.
The continued success of our business is also dependent on our key management and operational personnel. We rely on their experience in the processed seafood and marine catch industry, product development, sales and marketing and on their relationships with our customers and suppliers.
The loss of the services of any of our executive directors or executive officers without suitable replacement or the inability to attract and retain qualified personnel will adversely affect our operations and hence, our revenue and profits.
We are dependent on our customers’ ability to maintain and expand their sales and distribution channels. Should these distributors be unsuccessful in maintaining and expanding their distribution channels, our results of operations will be adversely affected.
Demand for our products from end-consumers and our prospects depend on the retail growth and penetration rate of our products to end-consumers. Sales of our products are conducted mainly through distributors, over whom we have limited control. As of December 31, 2009, our distribution network is comprised of 19 distributors located in seven provinces. These distributors sub-distribute our dried processed seafood products to over 2,200 retail points, including major supermarkets. We are thus dependent on the sales and distribution channels of our distributors for broadening the geographic reach of our products. Should these distributors be unable to maintain and expand their distribution channels, our results of operations and financial position will be adversely affected.
Failure to compete effectively in a competitive environment may affect our profitability.
We operate in the highly competitive processed seafood industry. We believe that our major competitors include international and domestic seafood processors. Some of these competitors may have significantly greater financial, technical and marketing resources, stronger brand name recognition and larger existing customer base than we do.
We also believe that these competitors may have the ability to respond more quickly to new or emerging technologies or may adapt more quickly to changes in customer requirements or may devote greater resources to the development, promotion and sales of their products than us.
There is no assurance that we will be able to continue competing successfully against present and future competitors. We believe that important factors to achieving success in our industry include maintaining customer loyalty by cultivating long-term customer relationships, achieving consistent product renewal and maintaining the quality of our products. If we are unable to attain these, we may lose our customers to our competitors and this will adversely affect our market share. Increased competition may also force us to lower our prices, thus reducing our profit margins and affecting our financial performance and condition. Such competition may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position and results of operations. Please refer to the section captioned “Description of Business - Competition” for further details as to our present competitors.
Any outbreak of earthquake, tsunami, adverse weather or oceanic conditions or other calamities may result in disruption in our operations and could adversely affect our sales.
We are based in Fujian Province which is situated in southeast China on the coast of the East China Sea. Fujian is a vital navigation hub between the East China Sea and South China Sea, and is also rich in agricultural and marine resources. Our main raw materials for our marine catch business come from the Taiwan Straight, which is also the place where we conduct our marine catch operations.
In 2004, an undersea earthquake occurred off the west coast of Sumatra Indonesia. This earthquake triggered a series of devastating tsunamis along the costs of most landmasses boarding the Indian Ocean. More than 225,000 people in 11 countries were killed, and coastal communities were inundated with waves up to 100 feet.
In May 2008, there was an 8.0 magnitude scale earthquake occurred at Sichuan Province of China. It was also known the Wenchuan earthquake, which by any name killed at least 69,000 people, and over 374,000 injured, with 18,000 listed as missing. The earthquake left about 4.8 million people homeless, thought the number could be as high as 11 million. It was the deadliest earthquake to hit China since the 1976 Tangshan earthquake.
Due to the location of our business, we may be at risk of experiencing another tsunami, earthquake or other adverse weather or oceanic conditions. This may result in the breakdown of our facilities, such as our cold storage facilities, which will in turn lead to deterioration of our products with the potential for spoilage. This could adversely affect our ability to fulfill our sales orders and adversely affect our profitability.
Adverse weather conditions affecting the fishing grounds where the fishing vessels chartered by us operate such as storms, cyclones and typhoons or cataclysmic events such as tsunamis may also decrease the volume of our fish catches or may even hamper our fishing operations. Our operations may also be adversely affected by major climatic disruptions such as El Nino which in the past has caused significant decreases in seafood catches worldwide.
We are in the business of processing, distributing and selling processed seafood products and marine catch. Thus, a dramatic reduction in fish resources may adversely affect our business.
We are in the business of processing, distributing, and selling processed seafood products, as well as selling marine catch. As such, 100% of our raw materials are obtained through fishing. Due to over-fishing, the stocks of certain species of fish may be dwindling and to counteract such over-fishing, governments may take action that may be detrimental to our ability to conduct our operations. If the solution proffered or imposed by the governments controlling the fishing grounds either restrict our ability to procure seafood supply or if such action limits the types, quantities and species of fish that we are able to procure or catch, our operations and prospects may be adversely affected.
We may not be able to respond successfully to changes in the highly competitive beverage marketplace domestically and internationally.
We operate in the highly competitive beverage industry and face strong competition from other general and specialty beverage companies. Our response to continued and increased competitor and customer consolidations and marketplace competition may result in lower than expected net pricing of our products. Our ability to gain or maintain share of sales or gross margins may be limited by the actions of our competitors, who may have advantages in setting their prices because of lower costs. Competitive pressures in the markets in which we operate may cause channel and product mix to shift away from more profitable channels and packages.
The beverage industry is highly competitive. The principal areas of competition are pricing, packaging, development of new products and flavors and marketing campaigns. Our products will compete with a wide range of drinks produced by a relatively large number of manufacturers, any of which have substantially greater financial, marketing and distribution resources than we do.
Important factors affecting our ability to compete successfully include taste and flavor of products, trade and consumer promotions, rapid and effective development of new, unique cutting edge products, attractive and different packaging, branded product advertising and pricing. We will also compete for distributors who will concentrate on marketing our products over those of our competitors, provide stable and reliable distribution and secure adequate shelf space in retail outlets. Competitive pressures in the healthy beverage market could cause our products to be unable to gain market share, or we could experience price erosion, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and results.
We compete with major international beverage companies that operate in multiple geographic areas, as well as numerous firms that are primarily local in operation. Our ability to gain or maintain share of sales or gross margins in the Chinese markets and ability to grow the business in global market may be limited as a result of actions by competitors.
We compete not only for customer acceptance but for maximum marketing efforts by multi-brand licensed bottlers, brokers and distributors, many of which have a principal affiliation with competing companies and brands. Certain large companies such as The Coca-Cola Company and Pepsico Inc. market and/or distribute products in that market segment.
Our beverage business are heavily regulated by China State Food and Drug Administration (“SFDA”) and other government agencies for the production and packaging of beverage products, and failure to comply these regulation may adversely affected our beverage business.
The production, distribution and sale in China of our beverage products are the production, distribution and sale in the Chinese market of our products are subject to the PRC State Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, state consumer protection laws, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, various environmental statutes; and various other state and local statutes and regulations applicable to the production, transportation, sale, safety, packaging, advertising, labeling and ingredients of such products. Although we expect that we will comply with all relevant regulations and rules in our production and distribution of beverage products, there is risk that those regulations may be violated and capital expenditures, net income or competitive position as a result of the violation may be adversely affected.
Water scarcity and poor quality could negatively impact our beverage production costs and capacity.
Water is the main ingredient in substantially all of our beverage products. It is also a limited resource in many parts of the world, facing unprecedented challenges from overexploitation, increasing pollution and poor management. As demand for water continues to increase in China and as the quality of available water deteriorates, our system may incur increasing production costs or face capacity constraints which could adversely affect our profitability or net operating revenues in the long run.
Changes in the nonalcoholic beverages business environment could impact our financial results.
The nonalcoholic beverages business environment is rapidly evolving as a result of, among other things, changes in consumer preferences, changes in consumer lifestyles, increased consumer information and competitive product and pricing pressures. If we are unable to successfully adapt to this rapidly changing environment, our net income, share of sales and volume growth could be negatively affected.
Adverse weather conditions could reduce the demand for our beverage products.
The sales of our beverage products are influenced to some extent by weather conditions in the markets in which we operate. Unusually cold weather during the summer months may have a temporary effect on the demand for our beverage products and contribute to lower sales, which could have an adverse effect on our results of operations for those periods.
We are exposed to the credit risk of our customers which may cause us to make larger allowances for doubtful trade receivables or incur bad debt write-offs.
Our customers may default on their payments to us. Although we review the credit risk of our customers regularly, such risks will nevertheless arise from events or circumstances that are difficult to anticipate or control, such as an economic downturn.
Our trade receivables turnover days were approximately 64, 34 and 27 days in 2009, 2008 and 2007, respectively. Our allowances for doubtful trade receivables as at December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007 were approximately $95,000, $24,000 and $21,000, respectively; and at about 0.5% of our gross trade receivables.
As a result of this credit risk exposure of our customers defaulting on their payments to us, we may have to make larger allowances for doubtful trade receivables or incur bad debt write-offs, both of which may have an adverse impact on our profitability.
We may be subject to foreign exchange risk and may incur losses arising from exchange differences upon settlement.
We sell our dried processed seafood products, frozen processed seafood products and marine catch mainly to local customers. Direct exports as a percentage of our sales ranged between 0.5% to 4.9% during theperiod under review. Our sales are denominated in RMB and US$, while our purchases are denominated in RMB.
For the fiscal year of 2009, 2008 and 2007, the percentages of our sales denominated in RMB and US$ were as follows:
We may incur losses arising from exchange differences upon settlement. To the extent that our sales, purchases and expenses are not naturally matched in the same currency and there are timing differences between collections and payments, we will be exposed to any adverse fluctuations in the exchange rates between the various foreign currencies and the RMB. Any restrictions over the conversion or timing of conversion of foreign currencies may also expose us to adverse fluctuations in exchange rates. As a result, our earnings may be materially and adversely affected.
On July 21, 2005, the Renminbi was unpegged against the US$ and pegged against a basket of currencies on a “managed float currency regime”. As at December 31, 2009, the closing exchange rate was approximately US$1.00 to 6.8372. There is no assurance that the PRC’s foreign exchange policy will not be further altered. In the event that the PRC’s policy is altered, significant fluctuations in the exchange rates of RMB against the US$ will arise. As a result we will be subject to significant foreign exchange exposure and in the event that we incur foreign exchange losses, our financial performance will be adversely affected.
We currently do not have a formal hedging policy with respect to our foreign exchange exposure as our foreign exchange gains and losses over the past three fiscal years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007, respectively have been relatively low. We will continue to monitor our foreign exchange exposure in the future and will consider hedging any material foreign exchange exposure should the need arise.
Please refer to the section “Description of Business - Foreign Exchange Exposure” for further details.
Our products and brand name may be replicated or counterfeited which will in turn have an adverse effect on our Company and we may be affected by intellectual property rights disputes.
We have registered certain trademarks in the PRC, details of which are set out in the section “Intellectual Property” of our Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2008 filed on March 23, 2009. Despite the protection of our trademark under the intellectual property laws of the PRC, such laws may not be adequate or effectively enforced against third parties who may violate our proprietary rights by illegally using our trademarks or our brand name. Our products and brand names may be replicated or counterfeited, which in turn may adversely affect our reputation and brand image.
Policing unauthorized use of our trademarks or brand is difficult and costly, particularly in countries where the laws may not fully protect our proprietary rights. There can be no assurance that our means of protecting our proprietary rights will be adequate. Any unauthorized use of our trademarks and brand may damage our brand, recognition and reputation. This may lead to our customers losing confidence in our brand and products, which, in turn, may lead to a loss in our business and hence sales.
Our business may be adversely affected by conditions in the financial markets and economic conditions generally.
The United States has been in a recession since December, 2007. Business activity across a wide range of industries and regions is greatly reduced, and many businesses and local governments are experiencing serious difficulty in remaining profitable due to the lack of consumer spending and the lack of liquidity in the credit markets. Unemployment has increased significantly. Since mid-2007, and particularly during the second half of 2008, the financial services industry and the securities markets generally were materially and adversely affected by significant declines in the values of nearly all asset classes and by a serious lack of liquidity.
As a result of this economic downturn, many lending institutions, including us, have experienced declines in the performance of their loans, including commercial loans, commercial real estate loans and consumer loans. Moreover, competition among depository institutions for deposits and quality loans has increased significantly. In addition, the values of real estate collateral supporting many commercial loans and home mortgages have declined and may continue to decline. Bank and bank holding company stock prices have been negatively affected, and the ability of banks and bank holding companies to raise capital or borrow in the debt markets has become more difficult compared to recent years. There is also the potential for new federal or state laws and regulations regarding lending and funding practices and liquidity standards, and bank regulatory agencies are expected to be very aggressive in responding to concerns and trends identified in examinations, including the expected issuance of many formal or informal enforcement actions or orders. The impact of new legislation in response to those developments, may negatively impact our operations by restricting our business operations, including our ability to originate or sell loans, and adversely impact our financial performance or our stock price.
In addition, further negative market developments may affect consumer confidence levels and may cause adverse changes in payment patterns, causing increases in delinquencies and default rates, which may impact our charge-offs and provision for credit losses. A worsening of these conditions would likely exacerbate the adverse effects of these difficult market conditions on us and others in the financial services industry.
Overall, during the past year, the general business environment has had an adverse effect on our business, and there can be no assurance that the environment will improve in the near term. Until conditions improve, we expect our business, financial condition and results of operations to be adversely affected.
Worldwide economic conditions may remain depressed for the foreseeable future. These conditions make it difficult for us to accurately forecast and plan future business activities, and could cause us to slow or reduce spending on our research and development activities. Furthermore, during challenging economic times, we may face issues gaining timely access to financings or capital infusion, which could result in an impairment of our ability to continue our business activities. We cannot predict the timing, strength or duration of any economic slowdown or subsequent economic recovery, worldwide, in the United States, or in our industry. These and other economic factors could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and operating results.
On January 1, 2010, we exercised an option to purchase Shishi Xianghe Food Science and Technology Co., Ltd. (“Xianghe”), a beverage company, and entered into a new business segment where we will need to rely on current management for the business acquired. Xianghe is a Fujian-based manufacturer of the branded Hi-Power algae-based soft drinks. We kept the management of Xianghe to continue to manage Xianghe. We are dependent on the current management of Xianghe for the continued development of the beverage business. We do not have prior experience in the beverage business and the success of Xianghe is subject to all of the uncertainties regarding the development of a new business. Although we are integrating the product into Mingxiang’s distribution network, there can be no assurance regarding the successful distribution and market acceptance of the beverage product.
We may be affected by global climate change or by legal, regulatory, or market responses to such change.
The growing political and scientific sentiment is that increased concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are influencing global weather patterns. Changing weather patterns, along with the increased frequency or duration of extreme weather conditions, could impact the availability or increase the cost of key raw materials that we use to produce our products. Additionally, the sale of our products can be impacted by weather conditions.
Concern over climate change, including global warming, has led to legislative and regulatory initiatives directed at limiting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. For example, proposals that would impose mandatory requirements on GHG emissions continue to be considered by policy makers in the territories that we operate. Laws enacted that directly or indirectly affect our production, distribution, packaging, cost of raw materials, fuel, ingredients, and water could all impact our business and financial results.
RISKS RELATED TO DOING BUSINESS IN CHINA
Our operations in the PRC are subject to the laws and regulations of the PRC and any changes in the laws or policies of the PRC may have a material impact on our operations and financial performance.
As our processed seafood products and marine catch businesses are carried out in the PRC, we are subject to and have to operate within the framework of the PRC legal system. Any changes in the laws or policies of the PRC or the implementation thereof, for example in areas such as foreign exchange controls, tariffs, trade barriers, taxes, export license requirements and environmental protection, may have a material impact on our operations and financial performance.
The corporate affairs of our companies in the PRC are governed by their articles of association and the corporate and foreign investment laws and regulations of the PRC. The principles of the PRC laws relating to matters such as the fiduciary duties of directors and other corporate governance matters and foreign investment laws in the PRC are relatively new. Hence, the enforcement of investors or shareholders' rights under the articles of association of a PRC company and the interpretation of the relevant laws relating to corporate governance matters remain largely untested in the PRC.
Introduction of new laws or changes to existing laws by the PRC government may adversely affect our business if stricter regulations are imposed on the overseas business practices of PRC companies
Our operations are carried out through our wholly-owned subsidiaries which are located in the PRC. As such, the laws of the PRC govern our businesses and operations. The PRC legal system is a codified system of written laws, regulations, circulars, administrative directives and internal guidelines. The PRC government is still in the process of developing its legal system to encourage foreign investment and to align itself with global practices and standards. As the PRC economy is undergoing development at a faster rate than the changes to its legal system, some degree of uncertainty exists in connection with whether and how existing laws and regulations apply to certain events and circumstances. Some of the laws and regulations and the interpretation, implementation and enforcement of such laws and regulations are also at an experimental stage and are subject to policy changes. Hence, precedents on the interpretation, implementation and enforcement of certain PRC laws are limited and court decisions in the PRC do not have binding effect on lower courts. Accordingly, the outcome of dispute resolutions and litigation may not be as consistent or predictable as in other more developed jurisdictions and it may be difficult to obtain swift and equitable enforcement of the laws in the PRC, or to obtain enforcement of a judgment by a court or another jurisdiction.
In particular, on August 8, 2006, six PRC regulatory bodies, including the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and the China Securities Regulatory Commission (“CSRC”), jointly promulgated the new “Regulations on Foreign Investors Merging with or Acquiring Domestic Enterprises”, which took effect on September 8, 2006 (“2006 M&A Rules”). The 2006 M&A Rules regulate, inter alia, the acquisition of PRC domestic companies by foreign investors.
On September 21, 2006, the CSRC promulgated the “Guidelines on Domestic Enterprises Indirectly Issuing or Listing and Trading their Stocks on Overseas Stock Exchanges” (the “CSRC Guidelines”).
Under the 2006 M&A Rules and the CSRC Guidelines, the listing of overseas special purpose vehicles (“SPV”) which are controlled by PRC entities or individuals are subject to the prior approval of the CSRC.
The 2006 M&A Rules and the CSRC Guidelines do not provide any express requirement for an SPV to retroactively obtain CSRC approval where the restructuring steps had been completed prior to September 8, 2006.
Yuan Tai Law Offices, our Legal Adviser on PRC Law, is of the opinion that (i) we have obtained all the necessary governmental approvals from PRC authorities for the restructuring of our subsidiaries prior to September 8, 2006, (ii) we do not need to obtain CSRC approval and (iii) it is not necessary for us to comply retroactively with the requirement of obtaining the prior approval of the CSRC for our public listing in the U.S..
There is no assurance that these PRC authorities will not issue further directives, regulations, clarifications or implementation rules requiring us to obtain further approvals in relation to our public listing in the U.S.
PRC foreign exchange control may limit our ability to utilize our cash effectively and affect our ability to receive dividends and other payments from our PRC subsidiaries.
Our PRC subsidiaries, which are foreign investment entities (“FIEs”), are subject to the PRC rules and regulations on currency conversion. In the PRC, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (“SAFE”) regulates the conversion of the RMB into foreign currencies. Currently, foreign investment enterprises (including wholly foreign-owned enterprises) are required to apply to the SAFE for “Foreign Exchange Registration Certificates for FIEs”. With such registration certification (which have to be renewed annually), FIEs are allowed to open foreign currency accounts including the “current account” and “capital account”. Currently, transactions within the scope of the "current account" (for example, remittance of foreign currencies for payment of dividends) can be effected without requiring the approval of the SAFE. However, conversion of currency in the “capital account” (for example, for capital items such as direct investments, loans and securities) still requires the approval of the SAFE. Our PRC operating subsidiary Rixiang has obtained the "Foreign Exchange Registration Certificates for FIEs", which is subject to annual review.
There is no assurance that the PRC regulatory authorities will not impose restrictions on the convertibility of the RMB for FIEs. In 2009, 2008 and 2007, approximately 97.4%, 95.1% and 99.5% of our sales, respectively, was denominated in RMB. As such, any future restrictions on currency exchanges may limit our ability to utilize funds generated in the PRC to fund any potential business activities outside the PRC or to distribute dividends to our shareholders.
Our subsidiaries, operations and significant assets are located outside the U.S. Shareholders may not be accorded the same rights and protection that would be accorded under the Securities Act. In addition, it could be difficult to enforce a U.S. judgment against our Directors and officers.
Our subsidiaries, operations and assets are mostly located in the PRC. Our subsidiaries are therefore subject to the relevant laws in the PRC. U.S. law may provide shareholders with certain rights and protection which may not have corresponding or similar provisions under the laws of the PRC. As such, investors in our common stock may or may not be accorded the same level of shareholder rights and protection that would be accorded under the Securities Act. In addition, all our current executive directors are non-residents of the U.S. and the assets of these persons are mainly located outside the U.S. As such, there may be difficulty for our shareholders to affect service of process in the U.S., or to enforce a judgment obtained in the U.S. against any of these persons.
We are subject to the PRC's environmental laws and regulations and in the event stricter rules are imposed to protect the environment, we may have to incur higher costs to comply with such rules.
Our production facilities in the PRC are subject to environmental laws and regulations imposed by the PRC authorities, inter alia, in respect of air protection, waste management and water protection. In the event stricter rules are imposed on air protection, waste management and water protection by the PRC authorities, we may have to incur higher costs to comply with such rules. Accordingly, our financial performance may be adversely affected. In addition, we require license for the discharge of pollutants for our operations, which is subject to annual review and renewal. In the event that we fail to renew our license with the relevant authority, our operations and financial performance will be adversely affected.
The outbreak of avian influenza and/or other communicable diseases, if uncontrolled, could affect our financial performance and prospects.
The avian influenza virus is a virus found chiefly in birds, but infections with these viruses can occur in humans. In January of 2004, the first case of the avian influenza was reported in Guangxi, Hunan and Hubei provinces. Later reports also came from Anhui, Liaoning, Shanghai and Guangdong provinces. Since 2003, there have been 37 recorded cases of the avian influenza in the PRC.
Because our operations are carried out through our wholly-owned subsidiaries located in the PRC, the outbreak of avian influenza and/or other communicable diseases, if uncontrolled, can have an adverse effect on business sentiments and environment. In addition, if any of our employees, our customers or our suppliers, is affected by the outbreak of communicable diseases, it can adversely affect, among others, our operations, our customers' orders and our supply of raw materials. Accordingly, our sales and profitability will be materially and adversely affected.
Changes in China’s political or economic situation could harm us and our operating results.
Economic reforms adopted by the Chinese government have had a positive effect on the economic development of the country, but the government could change these economic reforms or any of the legal systems at any time. This could either benefit or damage our operations and profitability. Some of the things that could have this effect are:
The Chinese economy differs from the economies of most countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, in many ways. As a result of these differences, we may not develop in the same way or at the same rate as might be expected if the Chinese economy were similar to those of the OECD member countries.
The Chinese government exerts substantial influence over the manner in which we must conduct our business activities. Government action in the future may require us to divest ourselves of any interest we hold in Chinese properties.
China only recently has permitted provincial and local economic autonomy and private economic activities. The Chinese government has exercised and continues to exercise substantial control over virtually every sector of the Chinese economy through regulation and state ownership. Our ability to continue to operate in China may be affected by changes in its laws and regulations, including those relating to taxation, import and export tariffs, environmental regulations, land use rights, property and other matters. We believe that our operations in China are in material compliance with all applicable legal and regulatory requirements. However, the central or local governments of the jurisdictions in which we operate may impose new, stricter regulations or interpretations of existing regulations that would require additional expenditures and efforts on our part to ensure our compliance with such regulations or interpretations.
Accordingly, government actions in the future including any decision not to continue to support recent economic reforms and to return to a more centrally planned economy or regional or local variations in the implementation of economic policies, could have a significant effect on economic conditions in China or particular regions thereof, and could require us to divest ourselves of any interest we then hold in Chinese properties or joint ventures.
Future inflation in China may inhibit our ability to conduct business in China.
In recent years, the Chinese economy has experienced periods of rapid expansion and highly fluctuating rates of inflation. During the past ten years, the rate of inflation in China has been as high as 20.7% and as low as -2.2%. These factors have led to the adoption by the Chinese government, from time to time, of various corrective measures designed to restrict the availability of credit or regulate growth and contain inflation. High inflation may in the future cause the Chinese government to impose controls on credit and/or prices, or to take other action, which could inhibit economic activity in China, and thereby harm the market for our products.
Restrictions on currency exchange may limit our ability to receive and use our revenues effectively.
The majority of our revenues will be settled in Renminbi and U.S. dollars, and any future restrictions on currency exchanged may limit our ability to use revenue generated in Renminbi to fund any future business activities outside China or to make dividend or other payments in the U.S. dollars. Although the Chinese government introduced regulations in 1996 to allow greater convertibility of the Renminbi for current account transactions, significant restrictions still remain, including primarily the restriction that foreign-invested enterprises may only buy, sell or remit foreign currencies after providing valid commercial documents, at those banks in China authorized to conduct foreign exchange business. In addition, conversion of Renminbi for capital account items, including direct investment and loans, is subject to governmental approval in China, and companies are required to open and maintain separate foreign exchange accounts for capital account items. We cannot be certain that the Chinese regulatory authorities will not impose more stringent restrictions on the convertibility of the Renminbi.
The value of our securities will be affected by the foreign exchange rate between U.S. dollars and Renminbi.
The value of our common stock will be affected by the foreign exchange rate between U.S. dollars and Renminbi, and between those currencies and other currencies in which our sales may be denominated. For example, to the extent that we need to convert U.S. dollars into Renminbi for our operational needs and should the Renminbi appreciate against the U.S. dollar at that time, our financial position, the business of the company, and the price of our common stock may be harmed. Conversely, if we decide to convert our Renminbi into U.S. dollars for the purpose of declaring dividends on our common stock or for other business purposes and the U.S. dollar appreciates against the Renminbi, the U.S. dollar equivalent of our earnings from our subsidiaries in China would be reduced.
RISKS RELATED TO THE MARKET FOR OUR STOCK
Pengfei Liu will have significant influence over the outcome of matters submitted to Shareholders for approval.
Mr. Liu currently owns approximately 41.6% of our authorized share capital. As a result, he can exercise significant influence over all matters requiring shareholder approval, including the appointment of our directors and the approval of significant corporate transactions. His ownership and control may also have the effect of delaying or preventing a future change in control, impeding merger, consolidation, takeover or other business combination or discourage a potential acquirer from making a tender offer.
Our share price may be volatile, which can result in substantial losses for investors who purchase our common stock.
The market price of our common stock may be highly volatile and can fluctuate significantly and rapidly in response to, inter alia, the following factors, some of which are beyond our control:
Additional funds raised through issue of new shares for our future growth will dilute Shareholders’ equity interests.
Although we have identified our expansion plans as avenues to pursue growth in our business, we may also find other opportunities to grow, including acquisitions which cannot be predicted at this juncture. Under such circumstances, we may seek to sell additional equity or debt securities or obtain a credit facility. If new shares placed to new and/or existing shareholders are issued in the future, they may be priced at a discount to the then prevailing market price of our shares trading on the NYSE/AMEX or any other stock exchanges, in which case, existing shareholders' equity interest will be diluted. If we fail to utilize the new equity to generate a commensurate increase in earnings, our earnings per share will be diluted and this could lead to a decline in our share price. Any additional debt financing may, apart from increasing interest expense and gearing, contain restrictive covenants with respect to dividends, future fund raising exercises and other financial and operational matters.
Negative publicity may adversely affect our share price.
One of our competitive strengths is our established brand name and track record. We have been involved in the production of processes seafood products since commencing our operations in 1994. Our “Mingxiang” brand has been conferred the “Famous Brand” award, and our products have received several other awards such as the “Green Food” award. Please see “Description of Business - Competition”. We have also established a track record in the processed seafood industry which instills confidence in our products and attracts new customers from South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Russia and Ukraine, as well as potential customers from the European Union. Negative publicity involving us, any of our directors or executive officers may adversely affect our stock market price whether or not such negative publicity is justified.
Certain provisions of our Amended Articles of Incorporation may make it more difficult for a third party to effect a change in control.
Our Amended Articles of Incorporation authorizes our board of directors to issue up to 1,000,000 shares of preferred stock. The preferred stock may be issued in one or more series, the terms of which may be determined at the time of issuance by our board of directors without further action by the stockholders. These terms may include voting rights including the right to vote as a series on particular matters, preferences as to dividends and liquidation, conversion rights, redemption rights and sinking fund provisions. The issuance of any preferred stock could diminish the rights of holders of our common stock, and therefore could reduce the value of such common stock. In addition, specific rights granted to future holders of preferred stock could be used to restrict our ability to merge with, or sell assets to, a third party. The ability of our board of directors to issue preferred stock could make it more difficult, delay, discourage, prevent or make it more costly to acquire or effect a change-in-control, which in turn could prevent the stockholders from recognizing a gain in the event that a favorable offer is extended and could materially and negatively affect the market price of our common stock.
LAND USE RIGHTS
On November 6, 2009, our subsidiary Mingxiang won the auction for the purchase of the 40-year use right of a land in Shishi City, Fujian. Covering an area of 8,691.4 sq. m., the land is located next to the fishing port and the Registrant’s processing facilities in Shishi City. The fishing port in Shishi is one of the five largest fishing ports in the PRC. The purchase price for the land use right is RMB 15.55 million ($2.28 million)..
As of December 31, 2009, we owned the following land-use rights in Dabao Industrial Zone, Xiangzhi Town, Shishi City, Fujian Province:
As at December 31, 2009, we owned the following building ownership rights in Dabao Industrial Zone, Xiangzhi Town, Shishi City, Fujian Province:
From time to time, we may become involved in various lawsuits and legal proceedings which arise in the ordinary course of business. However, litigation is subject to inherent uncertainties, and an adverse result in these or other matters may arise from time to time that may harm our business. We are currently not aware of any pending legal proceedings which involve us or any of our properties or subsidiaries.
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