Abalone farm takes out Emerging Exporter award

Posted by James Ferre on 15th December 2009

Bellarine Peninsula abalone farm Great Southern Waters’ success in exporting its Jade Tiger Abalone to Asian markets has been recognised with the company announced as 2009 Emerging Exporter of the year at the recent Governor of Victoria Export Awards.

Developed by Great Southern Waters in conjunction with the CSIRO, Jade Tiger Abalone has been tailor bred to appeal to Asian palettes, and is now grown, harvested and exported live to customers in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and mainland China.

“Great Southern Waters are a worthy recipient of the Emerging Exporter award, given their amazing success in developing Jade Tiger Abalone specifically for export,”
Andrew Ferrington, Executive Director, Trade for the Victorian Government, said. “Jade Tiger Abalone is a proven success in markets across Asia, and a great story for the Victorian abalone industry.”

Sustainable farming key to future growth

Recognised as Australia’s largest environmentally sustainable abalone aquaculture facility, Great Southern Waters selective breeding program produces a distinctive product, with shell and meat characteristics particularly bred to meet the aesthetic, taste and texture preferences of its export customers, the Victorian Government noted.

The abalone farm and live export/processing facility is situated beside the Southern Ocean at Indented Head and covers around ten hectares of land. The farm’s abalone tanks currently have a surface area of about 20,000 square metres, in which abalone are spawned, raised and harvested. The temperate abalone is in this way protected from external predators and raised in a controlled, unstressed environment in tanks filled with clean sea water pumped directly from the nearby ocean.

Export markets the key from the start

Throughout Asia, abalone has traditionally been considered a symbol of wealth and prestige and is usually reserved for special occasions including weddings and family celebrations.

Export markets seek high quality abalone in a variety of forms including live, frozen, ready-to-eat pouches or canned products, however Anton Krsinich, CEO, Great Southern Waters, says that it is the live export market that has been primarily targeted by Great Southern Waters.

“We developed Jade Tiger Abalone with the knowlege that people eat with their eyes,” said Mr Krsinich. “For this sort of product, presentation is everything. We have been exporting in commercial quantities for only three years and already we are finding that demand for Jade Tiger Abalone is exceeding supply.

“We have a very loyal customer base, and our office is fielding enquiries from high end hotels and restaurants throughout Asia who are asking for Jade Tiger Abalone by name.”

Mr Krsinich says that thanks to modern air freight services, and the proximity of the farm to Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport, Great Southern Waters’ live abalone are able to travel from the farm at Indented Head to the plate in Singapore, China or Japan within 24 hours.

The company exported 153 tonnes this year, and has plans to grow to a 500 tonne operation.

“We have taken part in Trade Fairs such as HOFEX in Hong Kong and the FHC China in Shanghai which has allowed us to introduce our product to buyers in an environment where they can see and taste the Jade Tiger Abalone,” said Mr Krsinich. “We are currently investigating emerging markets in the US and Middle East and hope to be exporting to these regions by April next year. We are finding the Victorian Government contacts in these markets very useful and are utilising the Victorian Government’s export assistance programs to get introductions to the right people in these regions.”