Wild caught pipi on the global menu

Goolwa PipiCo is partnering with the Ngarrindjeri people to bring wild caught pipi to the global market Photo: Jacqui Way Photography Goolwa PipiCo is partnering with the Ngarrindjeri people to bring wild caught pipi to the global market Photo: Jacqui Way Photography

South Australian company, Goolwa PipiCo, has partnered with the indigenous Ngarrindjeri people to process and market its wild caught pipis around Australia and the world.

The company has been promised almost half a million dollars from the South Australian government to expand its operation to process extra wild catch pipis supplied by Ngarrindjeri fishers. The indigenous community has harvested pipi on the Coorong coast for 10,000 years but this is their first foray into commercial clam fishing.

Goolwa PipiCo currently processes about 400 tonnes of MSC-certified pipis a year, about half of Australia’s total commercial pipi catch. The majority is sold live through wet markets and wholesalers although the development of modified atmosphere packaging in 2014 has allowed the pipis to be sold in supermarket packs that have a 10-day shelf life.

Managing director, Tom Robinson, said that the longer shelf life created export opportunities. “We now sell over a quarter of all our catch in that packaged format,” he said.

“The most important thing it does is it allows a retailer to put it in front of a customer in a pack that’s not going to leak on their way home and we can brand it and people start to rely on the brand. The Chinese market in particular places a premium on brands – they’ll pay good money for wine or beef with a strong brand and we don’t think our pipis should be any different.”

Goolwa PipiCo is a collaboration between five fishing families in the Goolwa region near the River Murray mouth in South Australia. It handles 60% of South Australia’s total allowable catch, which is set at 650 tonnes in 2019.

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