New sensor chip to take guesswork out of packaged fish

PhD candidate Jennele Heising from Wageningen University in The Netherlands is developing a new packaging innovation for seafood that lets consumers know how fresh the product is without opening the package.

The innovative packaging features a built-in sensor, or chip that communicates the freshness of the fish via smartphone before purchase, helping consumers avoid rancid or ‘off’ products.

As the fish decays inside the packaging, various substances are released which are then dissolved into water and then into the sensor.

Throughout her research, Heising investigated the practicalities of using a number of different sensors including those that measure acidity, ammonia and conductivity.  

She found that the ammonia sensor was unreliable as the substance was only released once the fish was essentially bad, and the acidity sensor was deemed inaccurate as temperature appeared to interfere with the readings.

Conductivity sensors however have proven to be more reliable. As substances are released from the fish, water appears to conduct electricity more easily enabling the sensor to assess how fresh the fish at differing temperatures.

'We can see an effect very rapidly and that is just what we need. It seems we’ve found a good method. To confirm that, we’d also like to know in more detail which substances cause that effect. That’s what we’re investigating at the moment,’ she said.

Heising says that the senor chip will most likely be contained within a small piece of gel and packed in with the fish and read with RFID (radio-frequency identification). Consumers will be able to read the chip information via their smartphones.

 

Adelaide to host World Aquaculture Conference

In what has been described as a coup for South Australia, Adelaide will be hosting the World Aquaculture Conference in June next year.

Running from 7 to 11 June at the Adelaide Convention Centre, the Conference is expected to attract between 2,000 and 3,000 delegates, and generate up to $11.5 million for the state’s economy.

South Australian Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Gail Gago, said “Port Lincoln just hosted the Australian seafood industry national conference, and now with the premier international aquaculture science and industry event coming to Adelaide next year, it shows how well regarded South Australia is as a producer of premium and safe seafood from a clean aquatic environment.”

Gago said the event will allow South Australia to show international industries its production techniques, regulatory frameworks, research and innovation, and the growing link between aquaculture and tourism.
She added that the state’s aquaculture production is valued at over $241 million and makes up more than 54 percent of its seafood production, while also being a significant employer.

The recently released independent Economic Impact of Aquaculture on the South Australian State and Regional Economies for 2011-12 shows the value of aquaculture production grew 11 percent on the previous year, up by more than $23 million,” Gago said.

“Aquaculture is one of the great success stories of regional employment and innovation, directly generating 1,147 full time jobs and another 1,510 indirectly, 65 percent of which are based outside the greater Adelaide area.”

Chair of the conference steering committee and President-elect of the World Aquaculture Society, Dr Graham Mair, said with aquaculture one of the fastest growing food producing sectors in the world, the conference, which has the theme ‘Create Nurture Grow’, will showcase some of the industry’s success stories.

“World Aquaculture Adelaide 2014 will bring together the results of research, industry know-how and the latest technological advances in one place, combined with one of the largest aquaculture trade shows in the world,” he said. “It really does provide a unique opportunity for the exchange of ideas.”

“Almost half the global consumption of seafood now comes from fish farms, and for the first time in modern history the world is producing more farmed fish than farmed beef, representing a historic shift in food production.

“As a result, aquaculture is playing an increasingly important role in meeting the challenge of global food security, making an event such as this highly significant for the future of the industry,” he said.
 

New barramundi farm conditionally approved for WA

Aquaculture company, Global Barramundi has been given the go-ahead by The shire of Wyndham in the East Kimberly to farm barramundi.

Located in the far north of Western Australia, the new development at Lake Argyle is expected to produce up to 600 tonnes of fish per year, as well as generate strong economic benefits for the region.

Shire president John Moulden stated that the council welcomes the development of industries that will be beneficial to the region, however due to failed barramundi projects in the past, the council has placed a restriction on how much land can be used at Lake Argyle, ABC News reports.

 “…The council was mindful of the fact there's a limit to the amount of suitable land for this type of proposal,” Moulden told ABC News.

"They granted approval on the condition the lease area be reduced to one hectare."

Moulden says that the council is keen to see the development flourish, but has some reservations for the long term viability of the project.  

"The last thing council wants to see is a business that flounders, and we don't want to be in a situation where sometime in the future we're left with a development out there and no business operating from it," he said.

"We don't want to have to deal with derelict and redundant infrastructure so one of the conditions of planning approval will be a cleanup plan."

 

Sealord and Tom Kime promote sustainability with Precision Seafood Technology [video]

Sealord in conjunction with sustainable seafood advocate and chef, Tom Kime of Fish & Co hosted an industry event last week which promoted the use of sustainably caught hoki fish.  

Hoki which is a deep sea species is typically found at depths of up to 800m, making traditional trawling methods highly unsustainable due to the high volumes of by-catch that are caught during the process.

In order to combat the issue, Sealord embarked on the development of a world-first in sustainable seafood harvesting; Precision Seafood Technology. Precision Seafood Technology is a commercial fishing technique that significantly reduces the amount of by-catch, while also heavily reducing the stress levels of fish during the fishing process.

Although still in its preliminary stages, Precision Seafood Technology is the culmination of years of research and a $26m investment by Sealord and other fishing companies including, Aotearoa Fisheries, Sanford together with matching funds from the New Zealand government.

Precision Seafood Technology utilises a large tube-shaped, flexible PVC liner which allows fish to be contained comfortably underwater. The system allows fishing vessels to target specific species and fish size, while allowing smaller fish and non-target or by-catch fish, to easily swim out through ‘escape portals’.

“Precision Seafood Technology will revolutionise how fish is caught, enabling it to be brought to market in the most pristine and freshest form possible – essentially like you had caught it yourself,” said Jason Plato, general manager of Sealord Consumer.

Patrick Caleo, Marine Stewardship Council country manager for Australia, New Zealand and Pacific echoed Plato’s points stating that Sealord has demonstrated a commitment to the highest standards in seafood sustainability.

“Sealord’s New Zealand Hoki fishery continues to meet the world’s most credible standard for sustainability, being certified to the Marine Stewardship Council standard three times, through their commitment to continuous improvement, innovation and effective management. We look forward to viewing the results of the first independent assessment using this new technology.”

As a long standing advocate of sustainable seafood, Tom Kime recently embarked on a fishing trip with Sealord to catch hoki using the new  Precision Seafood Technology.

“As a chef I have always been interested in provenance and where my food comes from,” said Kime.

“My role is to inspire people with my love of seafood and passion for ensuring it’s provided in a sustainable way.”

The Precision Seafood Technology can be viewed via the link below: 

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Love Australian Prawns campaign encourages consumers to choose local

The Australian Council of Prawn Fisheries together with the Australian Prawn Farmers Association will this month launch the Love Australian Prawns campaign which encourages Australians to choose local prawns, and consume them year round.

According to data extracted from an ABARES report, Australians only consume an average of 24 local prawns each year, with 40 percent eaten during Christmas. The Love Australian Prawns encourages Australian’s to ‘redefine’ their idea of ‘celebration’ and include prawns on more occasions.

“As an industry we want to encourage people to eat more Australian prawns. Australians think they’re the seafood kings, but our country doesn’t rank in the top 20 highest seafood consuming countries worldwide,” Says Graeme Stewart, executive officer of the Australian Council of Prawn Fisheries.

“If people enjoy local prawns more often and it generates more demand year-round, it significantly helps Australia’s regional communities and that’s good for all Aussies.”

Executive officer of the Australian Prawn Farmers Association, Helen Jenkins said that the campaign was not aimed at encouraging consumers to eat local prawns every night, but instead to include them in meals more often.

“Aussies are passionate about prawns. While people admit they don’t eat them often enough, people say prawns are special – they don’t want them to be just another meat on a dinner plate,” said Jenkins.

“They told us ‘don’t mess with the prawn’. As an industry, we naturally think prawns deserve to have pride of place more often. That’s the heart of the Love Australian Prawns campaign.

 

John West launches conservation projects with WWF

John West in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has launched two new conservation projects to help communities within the Pacific Islands and the Maldives protect reef ecosystems, and promote sustainable fishing methods.

The projects are part of John West’s commitment to a responsible seafood supply chain by 2015, and will see the company invest $600,000 over a three year period under its John West Conservation Program.

In partnership with WWF, John West will be contributing to the Pacific Islands Conservation Project which is designed to support community based fishing and mirco-financed projects in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. The overall goal of the project will be to protect over-exploited reef ecosystems, creating food security, boosting local economies and providing greater business opportunities for women.

The project will also receive some additional support from AusAid, who together with John West and WWF will be working with local communities to build and deploy small fishing rafts that are anchored to the seafloor close to shore. These rafts will attract non-reef species of fish and provide relief to overfished reef areas.

The second project – The Maldives Conservation Project with see both John West and WWF incorporate the development of a new tuna stock assessment modelling system for a leading pole and line Kipjak tuna fishery in The Maldives. The goal of this particular project is to increase the availability of responsibly sourced tuna and renew the fishery’s Marine Stewarship Council certification.

“Taking a cue from our sustainability commitment Our Oceans Forever, these exciting new projects are all about working closely with our partners, communities and suppliers to safeguard our oceans by contuinually improving fishing practices, now and for generations to come,” said John West’s group marketing manager, Stuart Sterling.

Dermot O’Gorman, WWF chief executive officer said that the projects marked an important step forward towards sustainable fishing.

“The small floating rafts create a win-win situation. Local communities get a new source of fish and income while the over-fished reefs get a chance to replenish,” said O’Gorman.

“In the Maldives it’s crucial we support a fishery using a more sustainable method that reduces by-catch.

“The world’s oceans are not an inexhaustible source of food. We’re working with companies like John West to transform the market and create demand for products that contribute to the long term health of our oceans.”

 

Superbug threat looming on live food supply sources

An investigation into antibiotic use and drug resistance in livestock and farmed fish will be headed by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to prevent the spread of superbugs.

The department will be looking to the private sector for experts who are able to review the current surveillance system for antimicrobial resistance, after the federal government was warned that it was not being proactive enough in preventing the spread of superbugs, The Australian reports.

Superbugs, which are antibiotic resistant organisms, have the potential to develop into dangerous infectious diseases and related healthcare issues. A number of confirmed cases of superbugs have been reported in European and American food supply sources, as well as in a number of developing nations.

Infectious disease expert, Peter Collignon from the Australian National University said Australia needs to act quickly to ensure that the superbugs do not spread to Australia.

Collignon says that the most likely route for the superbug to enter Australia is through imported seafood – an area which has already caused problems for other countries.

"We need to set up a system that routinely tests for antibiotic resistance and makes that information public," he said.

"While we've got good controls at the moment, we need to toughen them up so we don't have people getting antibiotic resistant superbugs through their food."

In June this year, a Senate committee recommended the establishment of an independent body for disease control to the government which would require mandatory reporting of antibiotic use in agriculture and a surveillance system that reports data from primary industry sector to the health sector.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said that a response to the Senate committee report is currently being prepared and will include a comprehensive strategy to address the concerns related to superbugs.

"The strategy will provide a co-ordinated response across all sectors and will target efforts and resources to identified priorities for action," the spokesperson told The Australian.

The report is expected to be completed by mid next year.

 

Scots to trial whisky-fed salmon to boost sustainability

Scotland is about to embark on quite the unusual partnership which will see the whisky and fish industries working together to convert co-products from whisky production into feed for salmon.

Whisky production in the UK each year exceeds 500 million litres of finished product, and for every litre of whisky produced, up to 15 litres of co-products can be generated.

Chemical engineers from Heriot-Watt University in Scotland are looking to convert some of the co-products produced by whisky production into protein-rich feed which could be used to provide a sustainable an economic supply of feedstock for Scotland’s growing fish farming industry.

A pilot trial project titled Horizons Proteins is scheduled to commence in August 2014 at a Scottish whisky distillery where the economic, nutritional, environmental and chemical engineering processes involved in large scale production of the proteins will be assessed.

“Distillery effluent can be damaging, but also contains potentially valuable nutrients and micronutrients. The waste can also be used to produce a microbial biomass which has the potential to be a cheap and sustainable source of protein-rich feed," said David Brown, chief executive of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE).

“The academic team at Heriot-Watt University have already been recognised for their excellent work by IChemE’s Food and Drink Special Interest Group. Their work and others looking at the microbial treatment of waste is very exciting and has many potential applications including crude oil recovery, healthcare and in environmental protection like bioremediation of sites affected by heavy metals and other contaminants.”

Note: copy edited from original posting

 

Tasmanian salmon producer chosen by Jamie Oliver for Aussie Ministry of Food

Tasmanian salmon producer, Huon Aquaculture has been chosen by renowned celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver for his Australian Ministry of Food project – making them the very first Aussie food partner to be chosen.

The program is designed to teach basic cooking through courses in Queensland and Victoria in an effort to encourage healthy eating habits and provide a practical solution to obesity and other diet related diseases.

Co-owner of Huon Aquaculture, Frances Bender told The Mercury that although the selection process was exhaustive, she was thrilled to have made it through.

"To be chosen as the very first Australian food partner is something the Huon team is extremely proud of, because we all understand Jamie's commitment to sustainable and welfare-focused producers," she said.

"The brand is synonymous with fresh, sustainable, high-quality produce and this is yet another way we can put Tasmania on to the plates and into the lunchboxes of Australians."

Although there are no plans as such to launch a Ministry of Food program in Tasmania, Bender says that she would love to see one open in the state.

"The great work that Jamie's Ministry of Food Australia does should not be underestimated," she said.

"I'd like to see all Tasmanians have the opportunity to learn Jamie's hints and tips and short-cuts to help us all make healthy, simple and quick choices for our meals.

"That's why I'd like to see a Jamie's Ministry of Food right here in Tasmania."  

Tasmanian scallops back on the menu after algal bloom scare

The Tasmanian scallop industry says that this year’s harvest is now safe for consumption following the discovery of a toxic algal bloom on the state’s east coast.

The discovery of the algal bloom resulted in the voluntary halt of fishing in Bass Strait and White Rock, however the Tasmanian Scallop Fishermen’s Association says that this year’s harvest – which will be sourced from the state’s north-west coast – will be free from the toxin, The Mercury reports.

"Scallops from the current harvesting area north of Stanley on the north-west coast of Tasmania were routinely laboratory tested this week and there were no algal blooms components detected at all," said Bob Lister, spokesperson for the Tasmanian Scallop Fishermen’s Association.

Lister says that the algal bloom occurred naturally as a result of changes in water temperatures and nutrient levels.

Following pressure from industry, the state government announced a $500,000 contribution last week to the Tasmanian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program which will be used to improve its biotoxin testing program.

Tasmania’s 14 scallop fishing vessels are now active in the state’s north-west coast.

 

Seafood Excellence Awards catches NSW’s best suppliers

The biannual Sydney Fish Market Seafood Excellence Awards were held last night at the Sydney Seafood School in Pyrmont.

The NSW Seafood Industry’s night of nights celebrated best practice within the industry by awarding top achievers across eight key categories, including two people’s Choice Awards which gave consumers the opportunity to vote for their favourite seafood retailer and restaurant.

The awards showcased the Australian seafood industry’s commitment to supplying some of the finest seafood in the world to both domestic and international markets, and included an impressive ‘Seafood Street Food’ canapé menu created by renowned chef, Massimo Mele of Hugo’s fame.

General manager of Sydney Seafood Markets, Bryan Skepper praised the industry for its continuous commitment to suppling the nation with quality seafood.

“We’re very fortunate in this region to enjoy some of the best quality, fresh, local and sustainably harvested seafood, so we’re thrilled to host this event to give some recognition and thanks to the many people whose hard work and expertise make it possible,” he said.

Guest of honour, Minister for Primary Industries and Minister for Small Business, Katrina Hodgkinson also acknowledged the industries valuable contribution to the NSW economy.

“The seafood industry in NSW generates more than half a billion dollars of economic activity each year, employing more than 4000 people,” said Hodgkinson.

“This event acknowledges all sectors of the seafood industry, highlighting the best of the best and bringing together all faces of our vibrant seafood trade from across NSW.”

Winners and highly commended award recipients 

  • Star of the Sea Award

    • Peter Dundas-Smith
  • Excellence in Environmental Practice Award

    • Winner – Richie Bagnato
    • Highly commended – South West Rocks Fishers Limited
  • Best Supplier (NSW)

    • Winner – Coffs Harbour Fisherman’s Co-operative Ltd
    • Highly Commended – Bermagui Fishermen’s Co-operative Limited
    • Highly commended – The New Zealand King Salmon Company Pty Limited
  • Best Supplier (Interstate of Overseas)

    • Winner – OPC Fish and Lobster a Division of Aotearoa Fisheries Limited
    • Highly Commended – Clem Jones – Symons Prawn Farm
    • Highly Commended Finestkind Limited
  • Best Seafood Retailer

    • Winner – De Costi Seafoods at Sydney Fish Market
    • Highly Commended – Peter Roan Seafood
  • Seafood Business Award

    • Winner De Costi Seafoodss (Holdings)
  • Best Seafood Retailer at Sydney Fish Market

    • Winner – Claudio’s Quality Seafoods
  • Best Seafood Restaurant

    • Winner – Fish Cafe by Balgowlah Seafood

 

ReCoila’s reel trial proving positive for Tassie salmon industry

Salmon fishing company, Tassal is currently testing ReCoila’s heavy duty reels at two of its 11 Tasmanian ports.

Positioned on custom built skids, the reels are being used for refuelling salmon fishing vessels and ReCoila believes that the harsh Tasmanian environment his the ideal testing ground.

Michael Pawson, managing director of ReCoila says that high quality, durable options are essential for such volatile environments.

“ReCoila has been around for more than 20 years, but in recent times, with the influx of much cheaper options, companies are tempted to sacrifice durability and quality in some instances, so it is pleasing that Tassal is thinking long term performance,” said Pawson.

“This industry is very time sensitive because fish spawn at certain times of the year, so having top notch equipment at its refuelling stations means Tassal is highly unlikely to suffer any downtime at this point of its operations, which would otherwise prove costly.”

The trails are currently performing well and if successful, similar solutions will be customised and manufactured for the other nine ports around the state.

“We believe the quality of our hose reels is second to none,” said Pawson.

“Ours have a serious level of strength and longevity that is expected by the fishing industry and other operators in the marine and offshore sectors.

 “ReCoila units, however, 10 years down the track, even in this salt water environment, are likely to still look and perform as if they were brand new.”

 

Tassal’s local focus pays off with $33m profit

Salmon business, Tassal, has posted a 19.1 percent rise in net profit for the 12 months to June 2013, reaching $33.46 million.

Tassal's managing director and CEO, Mark Ryan, said the FY13 results indicate that the company's strategy to grow its domestic market are working.

"Growing domestic market per capita consumption has not only removed the company's historic reliance on volatile export markets, importantly it's enabled us to generate growing sales and margins. As a result, we are now sustainably generating both more sales dollars and dollars per kilogram from slightly less volume sold," he said.

Ryan added that the domestic growth in consumption, prompted by Tassal's successful marketing campaign, has allowed the business to strategically exit the lower margin export and contract growing markets.

"As a result, we have seen Tassal generate a greater overall operating profit and profit per kilogram from selling slightly less fish than 12 months ago. The company's growth over the past year continues the trend over the past three years with growing earnings, strong cashflows, reducing levels of debt, and a growing divident stream."

Overall, revenue was up 3.9 pecent to $272.81 million. Revenue in core retail and wholesale markets was up 17.8 percent and 11.9 percent respectively. Operating cashflows was down 1.3 percent to $49.72 million, which the company put down to a reduction in government grants by $2.88 million.

According to the AFR, Tassal hopes to double Australia's per capita consumption of salmon, which currently sits at 1.6 kilograms, by 2030.

"Somewhere between 2.5 and three kilograms per capita is where we need to be aiming. It's a realistic target," Ryan said.

Average consumption per capita in Britain is three kilograms, and closer to six kilograms in countries like Japan and Norway.

Earlier this year, Tassal was named the world's second best salmon farming company in corporate, social and environmental reporting, according to seafoodintelligence.com.

 

Tasmanian scallops cleared of potentially toxic algal bloom

Scallop fishers on the east coast of Tasmaina have been granted approval to resume fishing after tests for a potentially toxic algal boom came back as toxin-free.

The detection of the bloom forced oyster, mussel and scallop leases in the region to halt operations until testing was completed ABC Rural reports.

Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council’s Neil Stump said that the recommence of scallop fishing served as good news for the industry.

"The tests showed the level of toxins present in scallops was well below the maximum permissible level and they are withdrawing their voluntary closures and going to recommence harvesting activities," said Stump.

"So for at least for one sector of industry there is a bit of good news."

While scallop fishing is allowed to commence, Stump says that some oyster and mussel leases will remain closed.

"Sometimes these blooms can appear and then die off with very little notice but at this stage it's too early to tell," he said.

"It's a matter of continuing the sampling to see how the levels of algae and toxins are tracking.”

 

Seafood Excellence Awards announces NSW DPI as gold sponsor

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) have signed as gold sponsor for the 2013 Sydney Fish Market Seafood Excellence Awards.

This marks the second time that that Department has endorsed the event which aims to celebrate the many accomplishments of the NSW seafood industry.

Executive director of Fisheries NSW, Dr Geoff Allan said the department was extremely proud to support the event and honour the achievements of the industry.

“The NSW Department of Primary Industries is committed to supporting the hard working men and women who work tirelessly to ensure Australians can enjoy fresh seafood and are committed to building a sustainable future for the industry,” said Allan.

“We are very proud to once again collaborate with Sydney Fish Market to support this event. High quality seafood is essential to a healthy diet and lifestyle for most Australians. Taking time to recognise the ‘best of the best’ and honouring industry leaders for such achievements as best environmental practice is important.”

Bryan Skepper, Sydney Fish Market’s General Manager is delighted that the NSW’s Department of Primary Industries will be the gold sponsor at the awards.

“We greatly appreciate the NSW Department of Primary Industries’ Gold Sponsorship as well as that of many other supportive sponsors. It’s clear that sponsors share our vision for a sustainable fishing industry and are committed to working with us to achieve this,” said Skepper.

“Industry sponsorship is integral to the success of the Seafood Excellence Awards. Without the generous support of the department and all contributing sponsors, industry excellence would go unnoticed.”

Other sponsors for various awards categories include:

  • Excellence in Environmental Practice – Ocean Watch Australia
  • Best Supplier (NSW) – NSW Food Authority
  • Best Supplier (Interstate or Overseas) – Commercial Fisherman’s Co-operative Limited
  • People’s Choice Award: Best Fish and Chips – Australian Fisheries Management Authority
  • Seafood Business Award – Fisheries Research and Development Corporation
  • Star of the Sea – Lindsay Transport, a division of Lindsay Australia Limited 

 

Tassal named second best in salmon farming

Tasmanian salmon producer, Tassal, has been named the world's second best salmon farming company in corporate, social and environmental reporting, according to seafoodintelligence.com.

Seafoodintelligence.com is an independent seafood market intelligence news and information service for international seafood stakeholders. It publishes a report annually to help key players and stakeholders (including environmental NGOs and retailers) assess the level of transparency and communication displayed by salmon farmers in regards to corporate, social and environmental sustainability.

This year, Tassal came in at second place, improving on its 3rd place ranking in 2012, and only beaten by Cermaq, based in Oslo, Norway.

The report’s authors said "Overall, Tassal has impressed us by its sustained improvement in the quality of its reporting. The publication last year of its first sustainability report has been welcomed. The second sustainability report published in June 2013 proves that this passion for sustainability communication is not a fad."

The report praised Tassal's work with WWF Australia and its aim to achieve Aquaculture Stewardship Council certification.

Tassal's head of sustainability, Linda Sams, said the company's second place ranking is testament to its commitment to sustainability reporting.

"Seafoodintelligence.com said our sustainability reporting can serve as one of the best examples to follow, for other ambitious salmon farmers aiming to become leaders in sustainability and responsible farming," she said.

Last year, Tassal became Australia's first salmon producer to achieve full Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification at farm level. In certifying salmon farms, The Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) considers factors including community relations; worker safety and employee relations; sediment and water quality; storage and disposal of farm supplies and biosecurity and disease management.

 

Victorian seaweed could catch the global market

Marine biologist, Dr Alecia Bellgrove from Deakin University in Melbourne believes that South West Victoria could become a leading producer of seaweed.

According to Bellgrove, the pristine waters of South-Western Victoria offer the greatest diversity of seaweed species in the world, providing a prime opportunity for exports as traditional harvesting nations such as Japan have been affected by both natural and nuclear disasters.

Taste tests on the locally harvested fare will be conducted in Warnambool from August 9 and will compared to Asian-grown seaweed in blind trials as reported by the Geelong Advertiser.

Should the taste, texture and nutritional value of the seaweed be comparable to its Asian competitors, Dr Bellgrove believes that Victoria could be in good stead to become a leading global seaweed producer.

“Much of the Australian population is iodine and zinc deficient and that comes back to the fact that our soils are poor in those two elements and therefore our ground vegetable sources are also low in them," Dr Bellgrove said.

"However, our oceans are rich in minerals and therefore seaweed, which is basically a sea vegetable, is high in a whole range of important trace minerals and vitamins. Another environmental benefit is that they are plants and, like trees drawing down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, there's a lot of evidence suggesting farming seaweeds in the ocean can be really important for decreasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels as part of a climate change solution."

Bellgrove believes that the application of seaweed need not be restricted to traditional Japanese dishes, stating that seaweed can be included in a variety of Western foods such as pastas and biscuits.

 

NSW state government to revive oyster industry

The NSW state government has announced plans to fund a new initiative to revive the state’s troubled oyster industry after it was riddled with disease earlier in the year.

The disease known as Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome devastated farmers in the Hawkesbury River region, killing a significant amount of stock and forcing 20 oyster farmers to leave the industry ABC Rural reports.

Kevin McAsh from NSW Farmers has welcomed the state government’s decision and says that the new funding will provide much needed assistance to the industry, ensuring that it gets back on its feet as soon as possible.

"What we want to do is get a hatchery up and running and get a manager in the there to have commercially available volumes of quality hatchery stock," he said.

"Now they're QX resistant…and hopefully in the future, we get some POMS resistance."

 

The best of the best, a day at the Sydney Food and Wine Festival

The annual Sydney Good Food and Wine Festival took place last weekend, attracting thousands of food lovers from across the state.

Featuring a smorgasbord of innovative producers from Australia, New Zealand and around the globe, this year’s festival saw the Sydney exhibition centre flooded with unique aromas and flavours to tantalise every palette.

Featuring well loved producers such as Maggie Beer Products and McWilliams Wines, to smaller new to market entrants, the festival delighted food lovers with an endless array of new and delicious offerings.

Some particularly notable exhibitors included New Zealand’s Ikana, who specialize in Greenshell™ Mussels, and Pana Chocolate, a local Melbourne raw chocolatier.

Innovative packaging locks in freshness

Ikana introduced their organically grown, easy steam Greenshell™ Mussels range to the Australian market last year. The Mussels are prepared fresh with chef inspired sauces which are free from artificial colours and flavours, and are then lightly blanched and snapped frozen to retain freshness and flavour.

Ikana is a small family owned and run business, with distribution throughout selected Woolworths Supermarkets across the country. General Manager, Mark Ventress said that the reception of Ikana’s products at the festival has been fantastic.

The mussels are packed in an innovative ‘easy steam’ tray, allowing consumers to cook the mussels from frozen in under five minutes.

Raw, vegan and fair trade delights

Pana Chocolate is a raw, certified organic, vegan chocolate which is handmade in Melbourne. The company sources only natural ingredients, sweetens its products with dark agave nectar and its cocao percentage ranges between 50 to 80 percent.

Along with using only organic and natural ingredients, Pana Chocolate’s packaging is made of 100 percent Australian recycled cardboard, using soy ink, recyclable foil and a recyclable paper wrapper.

One of the most notable points of Pana Chocolate is its texture and decadent taste. The richness of the cocao delivers a strong full flavour, coupled with a surprisingly smooth texture which is achieved without the use of heat.

Pana chocolate is never raised over 42 degrees and the company’s cacao is sourced from fair trade cooperatives in Bolivia and the Dominican Republic.

Something to be nutty about

Continuing along the welcomed trend towards natural and minimally processed offerings, Pic’s Really Good Peanut Butter sources the finest quality hi-oleic peanuts from Farmers in Australia and Argentina. The New Zealand company started in 2007 and has grown to become one of the country’s most loved brands.

Pic’s Peanut Butter is made with 100 percent peanuts omitting added vegetable oils, sugars and preservatives found in many other brands. Pic’s Peanut Butter range is available in either original or smooth varieties, and contains either a little salt, or no salt.

The calibre of exhibitors at the 2013 Good Food and Wine Festival was exceptional. Innovative ideas borne from either identified gaps in the marketplace, or simply a pure passion for a product had consumers both curious and excited about the impressive range of new product offerings.

The exposure generated from the event will no doubt benefit both new and emerging brands as well as old favourites.

 

PrimeSafe appoints Leonard Vallance as new chair

Leonard Vallance has been appointed as the new chairman for industry regulator PrimeSafe, which regulates the meat, poultry and seafood industries.

The announcement was made yesterday by Agriculture and Food Security Minister, Peter Walsh who stated that Vallance, who runs a 9000 hectare property in Mallee farming meat and grain, has taken over leadership at an important time, the Weekly Times Now reports.

“As the new PrimeSafe chair, Mr Vallance takes over the leadership at an important time and I am confident that he will work constructively with the current board and all stakeholders in the red meat, poultry and seafood sectors over the next three years,” Walsh said.

Vallance has previously been a PrimeSafe board member and is currently an executive member of the Cattle Council of Australia. Vallance is also the chair of the Cattle Council’s Research and Development Beef Taskforce, which works closely with Meat and Livestock Australia to oversee research and development within the sector.

 

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