Direct Seafood Asia

What started off as a small trading company specializing in seafood products, John D Paterson “JP” founded Direct Seafood Exports (DSE) in Thailand in 1997. The mission of this company was to work directly with the source, avoiding the middleman, to give customers the “Direct Seafood” advantage.

The original product line started as commodity shrimp but soon expanded to include other products. It was during that period that JP invested time in exploring the entire scope of seafood, from resources and commercial commodities to the seafood supply chain. One short year later JP had found his calling while exploring the business of pasteurized Blue Swimming crabmeat. From there on out, his soul focus became learning all there was to know about Blue Swimming Crab. JP mastered all aspects of the business including the pasteurization process, procurement and even seeking out new customers. Over the next few years the company began to evolve and expand. Direct Seafood Exports became Direct Seafood Asia as the company grew its operations into the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore.

The real adventure started as DSA partnered with Harbor Seafood and entered the pasteurized crabmeat market with the launching of a new, directly sourced, pasteurized crabmeat product, Harbor Seafood’s Gold Can.

DSA’s has been considered one of the pioneers of crabmeat in Asia, due to the considerable amount of real-world experience with the crabmeat supply chain. Integrating their knowledge with their back to basics philosophy and focus on boutique plants, they began development of a new business model. This new “Direct” crabmeat procurement and production model resulted in improved quality of all finished crabmeat goods.

DSA’s 5 step fundamental direct philosophy:

  1. Build your crab plants directly at the resource.
  2. Buy crab direct from the fishermen.
  3. Cook only Live Blue Swimming Crab.
  4. Process the crabmeat directly at the main plant (no outside sources).
  5. All plants must pack exclusively for DSA & Harbor Seafood.

This direct philosophy went into full effect in 2008 with the set-up of the first Harbor Seafood dedicated crab plant in Sichon, Thailand. The plant was steps away from the docks, where crabs landed and were steamed live, then picked and canned the same day. This plant became the model that became the precedent for all future DSA, Harbor plants throughout Asia. Each crabmeat plant that was built or renovated to fit the direct philosophy received DSA startup training process protocols, quality assurance management systems, and product specifications.

The DSA team supports both Harbor and their suppliers, acting as the de-facto Asia office.  Spread throughout Indonesia, Philippines, and India, they work together to collaborate on new plant development, investments, packaging development, finished goods inventory reporting, logistics management, new product development & processes, along with the entire scope of daily administration of funding and export documents.

Outside of the core crabmeat business, DSA and Harbor have developed new categories over the past 5 years with regular exports a variety of frozen seafood commodities including yellowfin tuna, mahi-mahi, loligo squid, soft shell crab and a numerous species of pelagic and demersal fish, all following the same direct concept. We’ve also developed a new strategy of utilizing the existing crab plant’s structure to create a frozen line capability.

The pasteurized crabmeat and other seafood categories have seen much growth due in part to the integrated operations of Harbor Seafood and Direct Seafood Asia. The two companies are able to keep a strong chain of communication and monitor the market situation from both sides of the pond.

The success brought from the direct philosophy had allowed DSA and Harbor Seafood to bring innovation to the pasteurized crabmeat process. The partners have recently developed a new form of packaging that offers extended shelf life and unmatched quality of their directly sourced crabmeat.

The DSA team is also working with Harbor Seafood to establish a sustainability plan, which has resulted in the recent launch of the first FIP for Indonesia. Both companies are committed to conducting sustainable practices on the Blue Swimming Crab, in order to preserve the fisheries for future generations.

Over the past two decades DSA has experienced that sustainable success is a mixed bag, containing even measures of high quality, low cost, some risk, trust, support, respect, appreciation, reliability, innovation, and the dogged determination. Finding value in every relationship cultivated, knowing that there is strength and power in unity.

In the future DSA and Harbor Seafood plan to expand their reach and further integrate their partnership, in hopes to become a global united force to source and supply quality seafood around the world.

Team Members:

  • John David Paterson “JP”- The company’s founder, speaks English, Thai and Bahasa Indonesia and travels frequently throughout Asia and lives in Bali with his Indonesian wife, Yanie, and their two sons, Raymond and Alexander.
  • Pak Faizal – QA Director, is based in Java and has been with DSA since 2005, he is an expert on all facets of crabmeat production and crabmeat quality assurance.
  • Bu Lina – Chief Administrator, she handles all export documents, packaging artwork and accounting.
  • Ananth S. – East Asia GM , he is responsible for India and Sri Lanka production and quality, joined DSA in 2014.
  • Lucas Paterson- JP’s eldest Son and he has been all over Asia visiting crab plants and seafood suppliers since he was 13 years old. He has recently joined DSA and is working in Toronto seafood sales.
  • Bu Yusi- Crabmeat Quality Evaluations, has been working with DSA since 2003, is based in Sumatra.
  • Ms Amudha – East Asia Administrator, is responsible for India and Sri Lanka export documents and general admin duties.


Time Line:

1997: Direct Seafood Exports was founded
1998: JP began to focus on the pasteurized crabmeat business and DSE became DSA
1999: DSA began its first shipment of pasteurized crabmeat out of Thailand.
2000: Operations expanded to include a new plant in Philippines
2008: DSA partners with Harbor Seafood to produce their Gold Can.
2008: The first Harbor Seafood dedicated crab plant went live in Sichon, Thailand.
2015: DSA created a sales arm to develop markets in UK, EU, Singapore, Bali, Hong Kong, Macau and Mainland China.
2009-2017: Plant Expansions:
  1. Kalimanton, Indonesia (2009)
  2. Negros Island, Philippines (2010)
  3. Selewesi Island, Indonesia (2010)
  4. Panay Island, Philippines (2013)
  5. Sumatra Island, Indonesia (2014)
  6. Java Island, Indonesia (2015)
  7. Tamil Nadu, India (2016)
  8. Mannar, Sri Lanka (2017)