First published on Adelaide Advertiser 31 July 2018. Click here to read the full article.
YUMBAH Aquaculture is eyeing a lucrative expansion into the Chinese market, after successfully increasing the growth rate of its juvenile abalone by 25 per cent.
The company, which produces 700 tonnes of abalone a year, believed the new growth techniques spearheaded on its Kangaroo Island farm would aid overseas expansion.
Yumbah Kangaroo Island general manager David Connell said 4.8 million juvenile abalone had been produced to a record size on the Island, over the past six months.
The animal husbandry improvements meant the time abalone took to grow to a harvestable size would be reduced by up to a year, taking about Two-and-a-half to three years.
“By reducing the grow-out times, the cost of production will drop and with the bottom line improving that aids expansion and business developments,” Mr Connell said.
“China is a major consumer of abalone and the demand is enormous, but we’re only just beginning in China.”
The abalone producer exports about 80 per cent of its produce to major markets in the US and Japan, with its overall sales worth more than $26 million each year.
The company planned to expand “as fast as we can” into the Chinese market, which had buyers seeking orders for 500 to 5000 tonnes of the shellfish.
“The requests from China area already there and this will enable us to speed up the entry into the market,” Mr Connell said.
“The company’s on a rapid growth phase anyway, so this has gone hand-in-hand.
“The quicker we can expand and produce 5000 tonne, the quicker we can distribute.”
Mr Connell said the company would grow its four farms, others being in Port Lincoln, Narrawong, in Victoria, and Bicheno, in Tasmania, before it investigated other locations.
Potential future sites would need rocky coastlines, good water quality and temperatures – all of which were integral to the improvements in growing techniques, he said.
“We’ve been working quite intensely over the last five years on nursery propagation and a number of things have come together all at once,” he said.
“The majority were husbandry improvements and algae production, as they live on algae predominantly at that age.
“Also, just the care and maintenance of abalone in their nursery tanks.
“This past year we’ve also had really good water quality and climatic conditions, at the same time.”
Mr Connell said the Kangaroo Island farm produced about 160 tonne of abalone a year, but a vision to grow the farm to 400-500 tonnes a year had faltered due to a proposal to build a deep sea wharf next-door.
“Essentially, having something potentially built directly alongside of you impacting your business, has halted investment,” he said.
Kangaroo Island Plantation Timber plans to build a seaport to ship timber and woodchips from its forestry operations and is finalising its environmental impact statement for the State Government.