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Asian markets fuelling growth for NZ mussel industry

Asian markets fuelling growth for NZ mussel industry

10 December 2014

New Zealand’s iconic Greenshell mussels are proving a hit with consumers in emerging Asian economies and fuelling export growth for the sector according to peak governing body Aquaculture New Zealand (AQNZ).

“Asia can’t get enough New Zealand Greenshell mussels,” AQNZ Chief Executive Gary Hooper said.
“The popularity is driven by the quality, purity, taste, health properties and the reputation of the product. Consumers deliberately seek out premium New Zealand farmed mussels because they know they come from pristine waters, are handled with integrity and are guaranteed safe products they can trust.”

It is a very encouraging sign for the industry, following a recent study by the Ministry for Primary Industries showing 91% of New Zealander’s support the sustainable growth of aquaculture because of its ability to create green jobs in regional areas through environmentally friendly production of premium seafood.

Mussel exports to Thailand, the industry’s second largest market, have grown 450% in the past five years. Producers are also gaining greater traction in China, which is now the 4th largest market and the ongoing potential is huge with President Xi telling New Zealand primary industries during his recent visit that “there is more Chinese demand than you can possibly supply”.

New Zealand Trade Commissioner in Bangkok Karen Campbell said the mussels’ taste, quality and reputation had made them extremely popular in mid-tier restaurants.

“My biggest problem is that I have distributers calling me saying: ‘why can’t we get more New Zealand mussels’,” she said.
“Greenshell mussels are an excellent fit for both the traditional and emerging eating culture.
“One of the things that stands out is how pride in using the mussels has work its way onto the menus.
“Every restaurant you go to, the menu says ‘New Zealand Greenshell mussels.”

The positive tail wind for mussel farmers is also strengthened by the recently signed free trade agreement between the NZ and South Korean governments, removing the current 20% tariff and improving competitiveness, while the NZ government also looks to advance trade agreement discussions with India. Additionally, the sector is also working closely with the Government’s export agency New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to build on existing activity and establish new markets in Asia.

The challenge at the moment is managing production as climatic conditions two years ago negatively impacted on spat (baby mussels) and the downstream effects are now manifesting where the production outlook for the coming year is largely flat.


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