New seafood industry body formed

The National Seafood Industry Alliance (NSIA) has announced the formation of Seafood Industry Australia (SIA), the new peak body for the seafood industry.

In addition, NSIA Chair Johnathan Davey has announced the members of the inaugural SIA board.

The group has seafood industry knowledge and networks across wildcatch, aquaculture and post-harvest sectors, commercial experience in domestic and international markets and are committed to creating a new national body that seafood businesses want to be part of. They include Marshall Betzel, Chauncey Hammond, Dennis Holder, Veronica Papacosta, Mark Ryan, Marcus Stehr, and Belinda Wilson.

The selection of the ‘pro tem’ directors is a critical step in the United Seafood Industries project to form a new peak body to represent the interests of seafood businesses across Australia. It follows the release of a ‘Prospectus’ document in 2016 and widespread industry support including letters of intent valued at $644,460 from close to 100 organisations and individuals.

The next step is for the group to meet, select a chair and then develop the constitution in line with the prospectus and establish the new legal entity.

Anne Ruston, Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water, welcomed the formation of the body.

“I am confident that the SIA will be a strong advocate for Australia’s $2.8 billion seafood industry,” she said in a statement.

“I look forward to working with the SIA as it promotes and supports the opportunities for Australia’s world class seafood industry.”

Sustainable seafood trial for Sydney’s Northern Beaches

Three restaurants on Sydney’s Northern Beaches will take part in a pilot project aiming to protect threatened seafood species, marine ecosystems and the fishing industry.

Manly restaurants Ruby Lane, 4 Pines and Manly Ocean Foods have teamed up with Northern Beaches Council and the world-wide Marine Stewardship Council for the Australia-first project which will focus on the certification and labelling of the seafood.

The restaurants have committed to choosing only sustainable fisheries, wholesale suppliers and fish species for their kitchens; and will encourage customers to make the same choices.

Northern Beaches Council general manager Mark Ferguson said the council supports the program because it is committed to helping residents and local businesses live and operate sustainably.

“The ‘Sustainable Seafoods’ pilot program is a great opportunity to help locals make informed, sustainable seafood purchases. It also demonstrates the value and demand for sustainable fishing practices,” he said.

The global Marine Stewardship Council will publicly acknowledge the participating restaurants’ ‘Sustainable Seafoods’ commitment through its independently audited labelling standard and certification process. This process focuses not simply on fish species that are under threat, but takes a whole ‘Chain of Custody’ approach, using an array of auditing techniques that monitor the sustainability of industry processes—from the fishing grounds to the consumer’s plate.

A community engagement component of the program will provide restaurant customers and seafood consumers with authoritative information, helping them make choices about the sustainability of their seafood purchases.

“We hope to eventually roll out the program to as many local seafood restaurants and retailers as possible,” said Ferguson.

While Australian fisheries are generally considered well-managed by international standards, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics many of our fisheries are still considered ‘overfished’ or ‘subject to overfishing’.

World-wide, the situation for fish species is much more dire. According to a 2015 study conducted by the World Wildlife Fund and Zoological Society of London, global stocks of fish such as mackerel and tuna declined by around 74 percent between 1970 and 2010.

Aussie salmon lands AA rating from BRC

Huon Aquaculture has become the first Australian business of its kind to obtain a AA grade in two categories from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Standards, a leading safety and quality certification programme, used by over 23,000 certificated suppliers in 123 countries.

Huon received the coveted AA rating after a testing and accreditation process of its new Huon Smokehouse & Product Innovation Centre at Parramatta Creek, Tasmania.

Huon Aquaculture Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Peter Bender said the BRC rating was a testament to years of hard work and commitment to standards of excellence.

“Huon has been working tirelessly for three decades to produce and distribute safe, high quality food to Australian consumers,” Bender said.

“BRC is globally regarded as the industry wide benchmark certification for best practice, quality and food safety in the food industry.”

“We are exceptionally proud to be the first Australian salmon company to achieve this rating in two categories.” “We believe this helps us produce some of the best tasting salmon products available in the Australian market,” Bender said.

The BRC Standard ensures customers can be confident in a company’s food safety program and supply chain management. All BRC audits are carried out by a global network of highly trained certification bodies and training providers.

The standard ensures exceptionally high standards when it comes to the competence, qualifications and experience of its auditors which ensures the audit standards are stringently maintained.

Bender said the new Smokehouse and Product Innovation Centre was one of the most advanced in the world.

“This facility is a crucial step in ensuring we are taking the highest quality, innovative products to market, all proudly carrying the Tasmanian brand,” Bender said.

NZ chefs join forces to help launch sustainable seafood app

Forest & Bird is preparing to release a consumer guide to sustainable New Zealand seafood this Thursday, with the support of a number of that nation’s cooking personalities.

The Best Fish Guide is a mobile app which uses a traffic light system to guide consumers in their purchasing decisions for 87 different fish species.

“I believe the entire culinary community can play an important part in safeguarding the future of our oceans – by raising awareness of the vulnerability of many of our seafoods, helping people make ocean-friendly choices and sharing ideas about how to cook lesser-known species,” commented Chef and publisher Annabel Langbein who has added her voice and a custom recipe to the guide.

The guide is built on comprehensive, independent research, and will show which seafood species are caught most sustainably, and which are having the worst impact on the environment.

“New Zealanders have been shocked this year by revelations of illegal and destructive fishing practices, so we’re really pleased to offer a simple, accurate guide that cuts through the talk and lets consumers make a genuine difference for our ocean,” said Kevin Hackwell, Forest & Bird Campaigns Manager.

“Only half of 1% of our marine environment is protected in no-take reserves. On land, 30% of the environment has conservation status and this should be the same for the sea. Thirty percent of our marine space needs to be protected in no-take marine reserves.

“In the meantime, consumers can use their purchasing power to send a message to retailers and the fishing industry that they want sustainably fished seafood.”


Oyster breakthrough opens doors to Asia

A new method to make oysters easier to open is being developed in South Australia.

The method, developed by Simmonds Seafood Marketing Agencies, involves shaving the lip of the oyster to create a small opening where a knife can later be inserted to greatly simplify the shucking process.

The opening is immediately sealed with wax to keep the juices in and the oyster alive.

Inventor and oyster marketer Bob Simmonds said the wax coating also provided branding opportunities because it allowed stickers to be applied that provide information about providence and packing dates.

He said the ability to keep oysters alive while making them easier to open gave them a much greater shelf life compared to the typical pre-shucked product.

“Most oysters are opened, half shelled and then sent to restaurants and hotels. You only get three or four days life out of the product whereas with the new process you probably get 10 to 12 days life out of the product, which is a huge benefit,” Simmonds said.

img - OysterBob_shallow

Trading in Adelaide as Oyster Bob, Simmonds sells 18 to 20 million oysters a year on behalf of South Australian oysters farmers, who produce about a third of Australia’s harvest.

Simmonds has entered a partnership with the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), which now owns the worldwide patents for the procedure, and is working to develop machines to streamline the process.

He said the easy-open oysters would be ideal for the Asian market because of its appetite for live seafood products.

Australia exports more than $1 billion of seafood a year to Asia, driven by strong demand for rock lobster, tuna and abalone.

“All the oysters that are sent out of Australia have been whole live and they are opened overseas but it’s a very laborious task,” Simmonds said.

“If we can take that part of it out of the equation and have an oyster ready to eat, that’s going to appeal to a whole lot of areas – especially China and Asia where they like live product.

img - Oyster Bob_Tall

“It can be opened live at the table and people can see the branding and have a discretionary taste of it just like they do with a bottle of wine.”

Simmonds and the FRDC have secured grants to develop three machines to realise commercialisation.

Oysters processed using the new method could be on the shelves in about a year.

“The product itself performs. It’s now about getting the numbers up,” Simmonds said.

“We’re looking at robotics and laser technology.”

In 2013-14, Australia produced 11,402 tonnes of oysters with a value of about $90 million.

Simmonds said as well as having great potential for export, the new method also was ideal for the retail market.

He said cooking shows on television had created an appetite for freshness among home cooks and made people more adventurous when it came to news ways of serving food.

“Now at retail level we can put them in a dozen pack and people can take them home and open them themselves easily at a dinner party or whatever it may be,” Simmonds said.

“It’s also the novelty factor of doing something a bit different too. Having it live at the table and branded are the essential ingredient to me.

Simmonds said the machines could be potentially sold commercially to other oyster processors once the process was perfected.

“The FRDC and I both believe this is one of the best things to happen to the oyster industry as far as marketing is concerned for a long, long time,” he said

“I don’t say it’s ever going to replace the current method but it’s just another string to the bow.”

Top Image: Federal Senator Anne Ruston and Bob Simmonds (centre) discuss the new oyster innovation with Seafood CRC CEO Dr Len Stephens.

Global fish and seafood market set to grow through to 2020

The global fish and seafood market has grown steadily in recent years, registering a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.8 per cent between 2011 and 2015, according to data from research company MarketLine.

MarketLine’s latest report shows that market values have increased in all regions. Global growth, however, is primarily driven by Asia-Pacific and South America, as the swelling middle classes begin to buy more expensive products through the organized retail channel. Despite this, the US is still the single largest market, and it is important for the global market that sales there continue to grow.

“The US is the largest market by value for fish and seafood, accounting for 13.9 per cent of global revenues. Value increases, while lower than in many other countries, have been driven by increased health awareness, as US public health bodies recommend eating two pieces of fish a week. Such advice is not unique to the US, and improved health consciousness is set to help the market globally in the mid to long term,” explained MarketLine analyst, Nicholas Wyatt.

The global market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 3.9 per cent between 2015 and 2020, aided by increased health consciousness and the desire for quality seafood among newly affluent consumers.

Volumes are growing at a slightly slower pace than values, demonstrating the impact of increased values in developing markets. In fact, the difference in growth rate between volume and value is greater in Asia-Pacific than it is on a global scale, providing further evidence that premium products are propelling the market in that region.

“The future looks bright for the fish and seafood market, but producers must pay attention to sustainability issues. Responsible fishing is key to the future health of the market. Overfishing or disease spread by overcrowded caging, as has been seen before in Chile, can create damaging health issues that rock consumer confidence,” added Wyatt.

Although these issues mean forecasts must be treated with a degree of caution, the current outlook for the global fish and seafood market is very positive indeed.

Sydney Fish Market to celebrate blessing of the fleet

Sydney Fish Market is hosting a day of Italian-themed activities to celebrate the annual Blessing of the Fleet, on Sunday, 25 September 2016. Visitors from the Sydney area and beyond are encouraged to join in the merriments with the local fishing community, in a centuries-old tradition that originated in Southern Italy.

The Blessing of the Fleet is also celebrated in the small village of Bagnara Calabria, Italy, on the same day as Sydney Fish Market’s festival, making this event extra special to Sydney fishermen who descend from Southern Italy.

“The Blessing of the Fleet ceremony is not only a tradition for our local fishers, but it is also a colourful celebration of boats. This is a great sight for locals, curious tourists and families of fishermen to come down to Sydney Fish Market to enjoy,” said Sydney Fish Market General Manager, Bryan Skepper.

Bagnara Calabria, a coastal fishing town in Italy’s Calabria region, is the birthplace of many of the Sydney fishermen and their families. This small town has long venerated Santa Maria di Porto Salvo as the protector and guardian of seafarers, and is very much part of Calabria’s history, culture and tradition.

The festivities at Sydney Fish Market are held in partnership with the Association Bagnara Calabra Sydney.

For the Blessing of the Fleet, Association Bagnara Calabra Sydney commissioned a replica of the statue of Santa Maria Di Porto Salvo, from their home town. This ongoing tradition, which includes a blessing ceremony of the local fleet and visiting vessels, celebrates fishing communities from around the world, and the start of a safe and bountiful fishing season.

The highlight of the day is a colourful procession of the Madonna – the statue of the Santa Maria Di Porto Salvo. Literally translated, her name means St. Mary of Safe Ports or Safe Harbour. Father Christopher Slattery, parish priest at St. Martha’s Catholic Church in Strathfield, will conduct the blessing.

Following the blessing there will be a showcase of Italian-themed celebrations including live music performances and the ever-popular, yet fiercely competitive, spaghetti-eating competition.

The entertainment will take place on a floating stage moored next to the boardwalk, enabling visitors to enjoy the festivities while they dine.

Everyone is welcome to come down to the free event at Sydney Fish Market to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the family-friendly activities.

WHEN: Sunday, 25 September 2016

  • 10:30am – Blessing and the procession of the Madonna statue
  • From 12:00pm – Live entertainment and activities
  • 4:00pm – Event concludes

WHERE: Sydney Fish Market, Bank Street, Pyrmont, NSW, 2009.

New food grade grease improves bearing performance

Schaeffler Australia has introduced FAG Arcanol FOOD2 grease which is designed to be sturdier and more energy saving than other lubricants on the market.

The latest FAG Arcanol FOOD2 grease not only meets strict sanitation standards, but also copes with high stresses and ambient conditions. It is also kosher and halal certified.

“Bearings typically used in the food and beverage industry are tapered roller bearings and angular contact ball bearings.”

These are bearings that are subjected to the most extreme stresses, so reducing friction is a big advantage which improves the bearings’ starting behaviour and reduces power consumption,” says Mark Ciechanowicz, Industrial Services Manager, Schaeffler Australia.

“The other major advantage of the FOOD2 grease is that it maintains its fluidity in cold environments, as low as -30 degrees Celsius. This is important for food and beverage manufacturers working with refrigerated environments,” said Ciechanowicz.

Exports keeping fishing and seafood processing afloat

IBISWorld research has shown the increasing importance of lucrative overseas markets to the Australian Fishing and Seafood Processing industries. Exports are contributing more than half of total revenue for these industries at a time when Australian Aquaculture is battling with significant competition from Chinese imports.

According to IBISWorld, the Aquaculture, Fishing and Seafood Processing industries, which farm, catch and process fish, generate collective revenue of over $4.0 billion and support approximately 13,000 jobs across Australia. IBISWorld forecasts seafood consumption to have grown by 1.1% during 2016-17, to reach 18.3 kilograms per capita. However, this is lower than in 2003-04, when peak consumption was recorded at 20.3 kilograms per capita. Tuna, salmon and trout are some of the most frequently consumed varieties of fish in Australia.

“Seafood consumption has increased over the past five years due to rising disposable incomes, increasing concerns over health and obesity, and increases in the price of beef. As a result, many consumers have switched to alternative forms of protein. Imports from overseas nations, particularly ocean fish and processed seafood, have also continued to increase,” said IBISWorld Senior Industry Analyst, Nathan Cloutman.

Rising exports

“Over the last five years, exports have become increasingly important to Fishing and Seafood Processing in Australia as overseas markets command higher profit margins. Australia generally imports low margin, cheaper seafood products, such as bass fillets, and exports higher value products, such as premium Tasmanian salmon, which foreign consumers purchase for its premium quality,” said Cloutman.

“Exports from the Fishing industry are estimated to account for two-thirds of industry revenue. In particular, an expanding Chinese middle-class has supported strong demand for high-value Australian-caught fish and seafood, including lobster, crab and abalone.”

Among Australian seafood processors, IBISWorld estimates that exports account for a sizeable 76.6% of total industry revenue, or almost $1.2 billion. Some of the Seafood Processing industry’s key exports include rock lobster, tuna and prawns.

Rising imports

“Free trade agreements with South Korea, China and Japan have increased the amount of seafood imported into Australia, although imports in the Aquaculture industry are estimated to account of only 3.9% of domestic demand in 2016-17,” said Cloutman.

“Australians have traditionally preferred to consume Australian-grown produce and seafood, due to its perceived quality, and the economic and social benefits of supporting local industry. Some seafood products, such as salmon or snapper, will generally only be accepted by Australian consumers if they are Australian. Some other products, such as canned tuna, are purchased knowing the fish is processed offshore,” said Cloutman.

Prawn sperm holds the secrets to healthy seafood stocks

Discovering the secrets of how one of the world’s most popular prawn species produces sperm and transfers it to create the next generation could help free aquaculture from reliance on brood stock from the wild.

University of Queensland School of Agriculture and Food Sciences PhD student Michael Feng is using advanced microscopy to create three-dimensional computer models of Australian giant black tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon) sperm.

Mr Feng said the giant black tiger prawn was a delicious high-quality species with distinctive stripes that turned red when cooked. “Black tiger prawns were first described in the 18th century and are a premium-priced product, growing to about 20cm long, compared with 10-12cm for more commonly farmed species,” he said.

“Although the seafood industry is a multi-billion dollar industry internationally, there’s a lot we still don’t understand about the basic biology of valuable prawns such as these. “If we knew more we could probably improve the efficiency of prawn breeding in aquaculture.”

Mr Feng said farmed prawns did not always mature well sexually in captivity, and the Asian prawn aquaculture industry had experienced significant setbacks from wild prawn diseases introduced by wild-caught brood stock.

“The aquaculture industry has been going in Australia for five decades, but there is still a reliance on wild-caught prawn brood stock,” he said. “Due to quarantine vigilance, Australia is fortunately free of serious prawn pathogens but our wild brood stock can be a vector for minor local diseases to enter farms.

“On the other hand, domesticated brood stock can be grown under biosecure conditions- but it’s important that they are also as fertile as possible. “We’re hoping to improve the knowledge of prawn sperm production using advanced techniques to assess sperm damage, such as DNA fragmentation, which is a cause of infertility in other species.”

Mr Feng said crustacean sperm were very different to mammal sperm. “Sperm have long swimming tails in mammals, but prawn sperm have no tails – they don’t move at all and look more like thumb tacks, and it’s an interesting mystery as to how the sperm gets into the egg,” he said.

Mr Feng has used a new scanning electron microscopy technique to gain powerful detailed views of prawn sperm cells, richly illustrating their composition. The research was published in the Journal of Morphology.

Dodgy prawn packaging costs Kailis almost $11,000

According to the West Australian newspaper, seafood company Kailis Bros has been hit with a $10,800 fine after the Australian Competition and Consumer (ACCC) found shoppers could be mislead by the labeling on its “Just Caught Prawn Meat” product.

The ACCC said the packaging showed a prominent image of the Australian flag on its front and back.

A map in the bottom right hand corner included the words “Australian caught raw prawns” printed in a circle around the map, and the packaging also contained the words “Australian Caught-Raw-Deveined-Tail Off-Prawn Meat” noted the West Australian story.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the company had been issued an infringement notice because the ACCC had “reasonable grounds” to believe the company had engaged in conduct likely to mislead the public.

“The ACCC believed that the images and statements on this product gave the misleading impression that it was packed and processed in Australia,” he said.

"Businesses cannot rely on fine print disclaimers to correct or qualify a prominent country of origin representation that is false or misleading,” Sims said.

Kailis chief executive Nicholas Kailis said the prawns were caught by Australian fishermen on Australian boats in Australian fishing zones and were sent to Thailand for peeling and processing for cost reasons.

There was no intent to deceive the public, noted Kailis.

Sydney Fish Market launches free seafood quality app

Sydney Fish Market has launched the Australian Seafood Quality Index app, which provides seafood buyers and restaurateurs with a useful guide to seafood shelf-life at their fingertips.

The new app has been developed to help assess seafood from catch to consumer. Users complete a checklist on several attributes of the whole fish, including appearance, odour and texture. The scores for each category are combined to generate a Quality Index score, which provides an indication of the remaining shelf life for the product.

Setting a benchmark for quality control, the Quality Index assists in the management of seafood products for the food service and retail industry. It is applicable from point of harvest; through transport; auction; distribution and sale.

Sydney Fish Market General Manager, Bryan Skepper, says: “This app was designed to incorporate established industry practices and present them in a user friendly, modernised way. It incorporates best practice seafood shelf life assessment and record keeping in one simple place.”

Special features include the ability to archive files for further assessment, upload images directly to a Dropbox account and the capability to customise settings to meet individual operational requirements.

Jointly developed by Sydney Fish Market and The University of Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the free app was funded by the Australian Seafood Co-operative Research Centre and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation. 

It is available for download on iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, via the iTunes and Android stores by searching ‘seafood quality index’.

Wealth and health issues contribute to more seafood in diets

 According to Anastasia Alieva, Head of Fresh Food Research at Euromonitor International, Fresh fish and seafood has seen growth over 2009-2014 across all global regions apart from Western Europe, where consumers were most affected by financial crisis. In 2014 and over forecast period leading to 2019, fish and seafood is projected to have strong performance on both, global and regional level.

“As wealth grows in developing regions, fish and seafood is becoming more affordable and is eaten on increased number of occasions, especially in Asia-Pacific and Latin American markets where seafood forms big part of local diets,” said Ms Alieva.

While seafood is perceived as a healthier source of protein than meat in many countries, especially where health of the nations is threatened by high obesity rates, at the same time, there is falling red meat consumption and growing consumption of fish and seafood in Europe and North America where consumers are concerned about health and wellness issues.

Australia was ranked 31st for volume consumption of fish and seafood in 2014, with 5,299,900 tonnes. This equates to 11.6kg of fish and seafood per capita in 2014.

The variety of cuts from individual portions to filleted and cleaned fish and convenient, hygienic packaging offered by retailers also contribute to increased number of purchases as those consumers, who appreciate convenience feel more confident buying and cooking seafood, noted Euromonitor.   

Safcol’s ready to eat meals designed for busy lives

Safcol recently launched Safcol Salmon Ready Meals, a convenient salmon snacking option for healthy eating while on the go available in Sweet onion and tomato, Italian Herb and Tomato & Spanish Paella flavours.

A range extension to Safcol’s Tuna Meals, which was launched last year, the seafood company says that their Salmon Ready Meals are “a unique innovation to the canned seafood snacking and canned salmon segment offering variety and convenience.”

According to Safcol, Australia and the western world is facing a projected obesity and diabetes epidemic if things don’t change it starts with our lifestyle choices.

Safcol Salmon Ready Meals have been created with Australian taste profiles in mind, and Australia’s number 1 fitness guy Guy Leech and his team of dieticians advised on the formulations from a health perspective.

With protein and omega 3, Safcol Salmon Ready Meals are packed in a 110g bowl, and are ready to eat on the go, with a spork and no heating required.

Tassal lands Australian Business Award for sustainability

Tasmanian salmon producer Tassal has received an Australian Business Award for Sustainability.

The award, which is benchmarked against international performance standards, recognises organisations demonstrating leadership and commitment to sustainable business practices.

Tassal Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Mark Ryan said the award was timely.

“The company is delighted to receive this award that recognises its achievements and commitment to responsible and sustainable salmon farming,” he said.

“Underpinning our goal to minimise our impact on the environment is our Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification which has now been achieved across all our farms. We are the first salmon company in the world to achieve this.”

Mr. Ryan said Tassal was committed to continuous improvement, ongoing measurement and transparent communications via its annual sustainability report and continuing leadership role in sustainable salmon farming.

Tassal’s Head of Sustainability Linda Sams said while the company had made significant progress in the sustainability space over the past four years, the company was not being complacent about future work.

“Tassal’s partnership with WWF Australia has been pivotal in our work to date,” she said.

“We still aim to continue to lead sustainable aquaculture production in Australia, with all our products meeting best practice environmentally-responsible standards.”

Tassal is a signatory to the WWF Global Seafood Charter which sets out clear principles and objectives to safeguard valuable marine ecosystems, ensuring the long-term viability of seafood supplies.


NSW Government gold plates fish awards once again

The NSW Government has returned as the Gold Sponsor for the 2015 Sydney Fish Market Seafood Excellence Awards.

The Seafood Excellence Awards recognises the ongoing efforts of seafood businesses in providing the public with exceptional, sustainable and fresh seafood.

This is the third time the NSW Government has endorsed the event, following Gold sponsorship at the 2011 and 2013 Seafood Excellence Awards.

NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair, said: “The NSW Government is proud to support the Sydney Fish Market Seafood Excellence Awards as a Gold Sponsor, and to continue its long association with the Sydney Fish Market and these awards, going back to 1996.

“The Sydney Fish Market Seafood Excellence Awards is a chance to recognise those in the industry that are the “best of the best”, leaders of industry in their field whether it be production, post harvest or those striving to achieve better environmental outcomes for the seafood industry.

“The seafood industry is an integral part of our coastal and inland communities and our consumption of seafood is steadily growing. Consumers can be confident that our seafood is harvested sustainably and is of the highest quality thanks to stringent management and food safety plans," Minister Blair said.

Sydney Fish Market General Manager, Bryan Skepper, said: “The Gold Sponsorship support of the NSW Government through the Department of Primary Industries is greatly appreciated by Sydney Fish Market. There is no doubt that we share the same vision for a sustainable fishing industry and are equally committed to working together to achieve this.

“Industry sponsorship is integral to the success of the Seafood Excellence Awards. The generous support of the NSW Government elevates the awards on to a public stage for all to appreciate the hard working people of the seafood industry,” Mr Skepper said.

The awards will be held at the Sydney Seafood School located at Sydney Fish Market. This event will bring together and reward the industry’s top players including commercial fishers and aquaculturists, retailers, experts, wholesalers and restauranteurs as well as key government and environmental agencies, media and gastronomers.


Birds Eye scoops ‘Australia’s most trusted frozen food brand’ for 2015

For the fourth consecutive year, Birds Eye has been awarded the Readers Digest ‘Australia’s Most Trusted Frozen Food Brand’.

With a rich history in the Australian market, Birds Eye is one of the most significant brand names in the frozen food industry, delivering innovative food products across the Frozen Vegetable, Potato, Fish and Meals categories since 1910.

Through an independent survey conducted on a sample of 2,412 Australian adults by leading market research company Catalyst Marketing & Research, Readers Digest has recognised the most trusted brands in 46 categories of product and services across a wide range of industries.

“Many purchases are made with the heart and, even in this digital age, it’s the brands which continue to offer quality and substance that hold our trust,” said Sue Carney, Australian Reader’s Digest Editor-in-Chief.

Ben Dalla Riva, Marketing Manager, Frozen Seafood, Snacks & Components at Simplot Australia said: “We continually strive to stay contemporary and evolve our product with innovative new ranges. We want to help people enjoy authentic, tasty food experiences without all the hassle of having to prepare them.”

Pacific Reef Fisheries awarded President’s Medal

Queensland company Pacific Reef Fisheries has been named the best of the best in 2015 by the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS).

Pacific Reef Fisheries was awarded with the silver heritage President’s Medal and $10,000 cash at the award’s tenth anniversary dinner at Sydney Showground’s intimate venue, The Stables, attended by Australia’s top food and wine producers and aficionados.

Pacific Reef Fisheries was nominated for its Sashimi Grade Pacific Reef North Queensland Cobia after winning Champion Fresh Fish, at this year’s Sydney Royal Spring Fine Food Show.

The Pacific Reef Cobia is a little known saltwater fin fish weighing about five to seven kilograms fully grown. It has a firm, flaked, sweet flesh with a high fat content, perfect in both sashimi and western cooking. It is a relatively new aquaculture species in Australia which Pacific Reef Fisheries founders, the Mitris family, started producing in partnership with the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

The enterprise is based at Ayr in north Queensland, and uses land based seawater ponds fed by a constant flow of Coral Sea water.

Treatment ponds and mangrove wetlands form part of a world first water treatment technique being used to remediate the water leaving the farm and also produce human food grade seaweed in the discharge waters.

Robert Ryan OAM, President of the RAS, congratulated Pacific Reef Fisheries on its incredible win and achievements for excellence in food production.

“Pacific Reef Fisheries has adapted an artisan farming technique to Australian conditions, and overcome significant challenges to become a tremendous success story producing a superb, premium quality fish suited to restaurant, catering and retail.

“The Pacific Reef Cobia has beaten a field of more than 5,650 entries from around Australia in the Sydney Royal Wine, Dairy and Fine Food Shows,” Ryan said.

Simon Marnie, ABC 702 Weekends presenter and food lover, has been a member of the judging panel since the first President’s Medal was awarded in 2006.

“This year’s finalists again typified what the President’s Medal stands for. All producers demonstrated a deep understanding of not only their environmental and commercial setting, but the need to contribute to their local communities,” Marnie said.

“Pacific Reef Fisheries is a company focused on a triple bottom line approach. It is forging new market opportunities and developing production systems that have the potential to revolutionise aquaculture world-wide. It is also a major employer in a town suffering from the decline of the traditionally dominant sugar industry.

“The company acknowledges that while it has taken a tremendous amount of hard work and a steep learning curve to bring them to where they are today, the creation of a new product widely regarded as a premium “five star” fish has been well worth it.

“As well, to have developed a production system that is returning water to the environment in as good, if not better condition than when it was pumped in, is incredibly exciting,” Marnie said.

The other five finalists in 2015 were: Serendipity Ice Cream, Marrickville, NSW; Australian Agricultural Company, QLD & NT; Tyrrell’s Wines, Hunter Valley, NSW; Soumah, Yarra Valley, Victoria, and; Yabby Lake Vineyard, Mornington Peninsula, VIC.


Huon Aquaculture opens $12 mill processing plant

Huon Aquaculture has opened a new $12 million Smokehouse and Product Innovation Centre in Parramatta Creek.

The facility is comprised of a 2,500m2 value-added salmon processing facility and a 750m2 administration facility. It is expected to deliver more than one million dollars in cost savings for the company in its first year of operation under one site.

The new facility involves a revamp and extension of Huon’s existing Parramatta Creek operation, now twice as large as its original footprint.

Huon Aquaculture Managing Director Peter Bender said: “Our new facility will enable us to increase our production capacity and efficiency, while reducing our environmental footprint.

“We produce around 17,000 tonnes of fresh salmon each year, with our new facility part of our four-year $160 million controlled growth strategy.

“This world-class site will incorporate whole fish, fresh fish, and value-added cold and hot smoked production, successfully bringing together our full range of seafood processing at a single location.”

The project includes:

  • A suspended walkway across existing and new processing facilities provides access to staff entry areas, as well as viewing facilities for customers and visitors.
  • The new 750m² administration facility includes meeting rooms, a boardroom, laboratory and product development, and extended car-parking facilities. The dining room and commercial kitchen are complimented by staff breakout and barbeque areas for 100 employees.
  • The existing fresh salmon processing facility, completed in stage one, received a reconfiguration of process areas and upgrade works to drainage and floors with a new epoxy finish.
  • LED lighting has been incorporated throughout the new facility providing an improved environment for the staff and saving on energy consumption and maintenance.


Tassal nets De Costi Seafoods hook, line and sinker

As of today (1 July), Tassal has consolidated its supply chain by its acquisition of De Costi Seafoods.

Tassal will pay $50 million upfront and in cash on completion of the acquisition and a share option, capped at 10 million shares, which will be paid over the next three years.

The acquisition will allow Tassal to control its supply chain from the fish farms, right through to retail.

De Costi Seafoods is one of the largest in Australia’s seafood industry, and Tassal’s chairman, Allan McCallum said its central location enables it to service retailers down the East Coast of Australia and South Australia.

“The De Costi Seafoods business is extremely complementary to Tassal and consistent with our Salmon and Seafood strategy,” McCallum said.

“Following completion of this acquisition, Tassal will be very well placed to access and grow Australia’s $4.3 billion annual seafood market, and support significant market growth in seafood for retailers down the East Coast of Australia and South Australia.”

Last year, Tassal completed its $200 million five year investment program to improve hatching, growing and processing infrastructure. With the benefits of the investment flowing through, Tassal has been able to remove its reliance on the export market.

Tassal’s Managing Director and CEO, Mark Ryan said “the proposed acquisition of De Costi Seafoods will further build on our domestic salmon capabilities, increase Tassal’s vertical integration in salmon, drive increased scale and provide Tassal with access to the broader seafood market. This increased scale will drive further efficiencies and benefits to both Tassal’s salmon offering as well as seafood, and uniquely position Tassal for its next phase of growth.”

While completion is yet to occur, the agreement has been structured in a way to allow Tassal to acquire the business and obtain the benefits of its earnings from today, 1 July 2015, and for George De Costi to obtain the benefits of the earn-out (share) component from 1 July 2015.

The business will be run from Tassal today, whilst progressing towards satisfaction of certain conditions, including: no material adverse changes occurring in respect to the business, George De Costi entering into an employment agreement for at least three years from the completion of the acquisition and the completion of the agreed restructure of De Costi Seafoods.