Victorian abalone pioneers win top export Agribusiness award

First published on The Victorian Connection on 15 February 2018. Click here to read the full story.

 

Since taking out the hotly-contested Agribusiness Award at the 55th annual Australian Export Awards (AEA) and the Governor of Victoria Export Awards (GOVEA) in late 2017, Yumbah Aquaculture – established in 1999 on a secluded beach at Narrawong north-east of Portland in western Victoria – is planning further export inroads that will elevate its standing as an Australian business trailblazer.

Sought after as a delicacy (like truffle and caviar) and prized for its sweet white meat with a texture like a scallop crossed with a fleshy mushroom, Yumbah’s abalone is already enjoying huge popularity overseas, particularly in northern Asia where abalone has been savoured for thousands of years. It’s often served sashimi-style, pan fried or slow cooked.

Current state of play

Yumbah – meaning large shellfish in the indigenous Yaygirr language – is without a doubt a regional Victoria business success story. It’s the largest abalone producer in the Southern Hemisphere and a leading exporter to Japan, Asia, the US and Europe, turning over $25 million annually, employing 80 full-time people and producing 700 tonnes of abalone each year at on-shore farms in Narrawong, Port Lincoln, Kangaroo Island and Tasmania’s Bicheno, with a wholesale in-shell price of $40 per kilogram.

Even so, winning the prestigious AEA has certainly given the company more recognition and the business has further expansion in its sights, says General Manager Tim Rudge.

“We’ve worked hard to develop a diverse market base that includes not just the traditional Asian markets but also niche markets, such as the US and Canada,” notes Rudge.

Japan is currently its number one customer accounting for almost 30 per cent of annual revenue, but a feasibility plan is underway that could see production more than double over the next six years. This would give the company the product volume required “to take a big step into China”, where sales are already experiencing a rapid uptake.