November 10, 2010

 

China's demand drives Australia's seafood export growth

 
 

The rapidly rising Chinese demand for premium-quality seafood has boosted the export growth of the Seafood Exporters, said Chief Executive Michael Filippidis.

 

The company was recognised by winning the International Award at the Premier's Food Industry Awards.

 

Mr Filippidis expects the demand will provide a significant boost to the South Australia's aquaculture industry within five years. After five trips to China this year, he is confident rapid growth at the top end of the market will make a big difference to the state's aquaculture sales.

 

Seafood Exporters' sales have grown from humble beginnings 18 months ago to millions of dollars of seafood this financial year, while employment has reached 10 people.

 

It has just opened an office in China to handle the soaring demand for quality Australian seafood, which has reached a minimum of eight to 10 tonnes of seafood to Asia each week.

 

"We always need to factor in foreign exchange rates which adds a layer of complexity to the business. But years of oyster farming and trading in fresh natural products like seafood has given us the experience to deal with uncertainty. We just need to stay focused,'' he said.

 

"I'd envisaged a nice, steady growth, but we have reached a position in 18 months where I expected we would be after five years. The possibilities are endless throughout the Asian markets and I don't know where to put a cap on it. They are exciting times for us and we are getting a better return on our export markets because they really appreciate our quality,'' Mr Filippidis said.

 

Mr Filippidis and partners Ian Webber and Ken Bascomb, who own six oyster farms on Eyre Peninsula between the three of them, started Seafood Exporters in a tin shed at Wingfield in late 2008 to market oysters.

 

It had since expanded to market a range of South Australian seafood, with its success based on the quality, consistency and sustainability of its seafood products, Mr Filippidis said.

 

Oysters from every bay on the Eyre Peninsula between Coffin Bay and Ceduna are its core product, but with seafood the number one staple food in Asia, demand for other SA products is growing.

 

Seafood Exporters also sends fresh Boston Bay mussels and Clean Seas Tuna's kingfish and tuna varieties, along with green-lip abalone and atlantic salmon.

 

The retail demand for its oysters in China, due to their freshness, was such that they sold for US$25 a dozen compared with US$1.50 a dozen for local oysters which were grown in far inferior conditions, he said.

 

Mr Filippidis said China never had enough seafood for its markets and was constantly chasing stock.

 

Seafood Exporters is also helping other producers break into markets by contract packing for them.

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