Australian caught abalone may soon be more abundantly exported to China thanks to a recently launched project to raise the fish’s profile in the Chinese market. The Abalone Council of Australia Ltd (ACA) and the Australian Seafood Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) have introduced the Australian Wild Abalone China Project at Shanghai’s esteemed LAN Club.
Abalone is considered a delicacy in China, and the Australian sector hopes the project will lead to the showcasing of the high quality shellfish in 120 restaurants. The project already started out in six top range restaurants.
ACA and CRC engaged global research company the Grey Group, to help with the project and to develop a strategy to teach chefs and consumers that Australian wild abalone can be eaten often, instead of reserved for traditional cultural celebrations. The group wants to endorse the shellfish at many of the top end western and fusion restaurants in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and other cities, as well as all kinds of Cantonese restaurants.
The president of the South Australian Abalone Industry Association, Jonas Woolford, believes that ensuring control over the way in which Australian wild abalone makes its way into the Chinese market is important in raising its profile and boosting its popularity, reports Port Lincoln Times.
"The intent of the project is to establish where Australian wild caught abalone sits in the market and determine the best way to raise the profile of the seafood," he said. "Shanghai is a rapidly growing city, the people are opening up to the west, especially since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and now with the world expo currently underway in Shanghai there are some amazing opportunities presenting themselves.”
"If we don't keep ourselves and our industry up with the game and take advantage of them they (opportunities) will be lost forever," he speculated.
Western Abalone Processors Manager Jim George said the project has been developed to evolve in stages over the next 18 months as the research breeds useful findings.
“While this is a national initiative Tasmania stands to gain more than any other State because they produce around 60 per cent of Australia’s total catch of wild abalone,” noted Minister for Primary Industries and Water Bryan Green. “To put this into perspective Australia supplies half of the world’s wild abalone catch."
In 2008-9 Tasmania exported more than 1,800 tonnes of live and processed abalone, and most of the state’s wild abalone travels live to China.
“Developing brand recognition in China through trials like this is crucial to growth opportunities for the industry,” he added.
By Natalia Real