Ocean Jacket gains foothold in China

Ferguson Australia is enjoying strong sales in China of Ocean Jacket Phot: Ferguson Australia Ferguson Australia is enjoying strong sales in China of Ocean Jacket Phot: Ferguson Australia

Southern Rock Lobster exporter Ferguson Australia is establishing a strong fish business in China that is on track to reach 500 tonnes a year, partly in thanks to the demand for a species unpopular in the company's native country.

The Ocean Jacket (Nelusetta ayraudi), also known as Leatherjacket, is not widely sold in Australia despite its abundance in southern waters. However, it is very popular in China, mainly as a key protein ingredient in hot pots.

Ferguson Australia's managing director, Andrew Ferguson, said that having experience of lobster exports to China had helped establish the Ocean Jacket business. “Every time we go to China, we’re looking for tuna customers, lobster customers and customers for our other products like the jackets as well,” he said.

“But it’s taken four or five years to now get it kicked off but because we were up there selling lobsters we were able to keep persevering in our search for the Ocean Jacket marketplace," he added.

The company, which also owns Five Star Seafoods, processes and markets about 450 tonnes of Southern Rock Lobster a year. In recent years, initial shipments of Ocean Jacket were sent to China to test the market and shipments have now reached 40 tonnes a month.

The company also exports about 50 tonnes of fresh Southern Bluefin Tuna to China, which along with the frozen 10kg boxes of Ocean Jacket are marketed as Mori Seafood.

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