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Europe In Love With NZ's Sustainable Oyster

Oysters Marketing Economics +3 more

EUROPEAN UNION - Launched into the European market at last years European Seafood Exposition in Brussels, Belgium, Kaipara Oysters have enjoyed immense success with orders for the organic oysters flooding in from all over the continent.

The debut of this new brand of organic New Zealand oyster (Crassostrea gigas) at the Brussels’ show was marked with a place on the shortlist for an award in the prestigious Prix d’Elite Best New Products Competition. This quickly translated into several large foodservice and retail orders.

An indication of the high regard the oysters earned in just a short space of time came with the product’s placement on the menu at last summer’s Wimbledon Tennis Championships. They were selected for the event by the Compass Group UK & Ireland, one of Europe’s largest professional caterers.

Recommended and provided by Direct Seafoods, part of the Seafood Holdings group and a premium supplier of sustainable seafood to British Achefs, the oysters highly impressed Compass with their eating quality, ease of use and safety.

Already regarded as one of the safest and most environmentally friendly oysters ever to reach the international market, Kaipara Oysters are produced in the strong, pristine waters of the outer Kaipara Harbour on the northwest side of North Island in New Zealand.

Produced exclusively by the 2nd generation family-run company Kaipara Oysters, the oysters are organic- certified under the stringent Asure Quality organic certification programme. This also allows these unique oysters to be marketed as compliant under European ‘BIO’ standards.

As to be expected from a premium international seafood producer, the company’s farm and factory are fully approved by the world’s most exacting food safety and public health agencies, including the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Union (EU) and the Japanese Ministry of Health & Welfare.

In Europe, the Kaipara Oysters have been particularly welcomed by the exacting markets of Italy, Spain, Poland and Denmark, and Kaipara Oysters fully expects more markets to open up following the oysters’ second appearance at ESE this coming May.

Sustainability focus

In January of this year, the efforts and initiatives of Kaipara Oysters were recognised by leading seafood B2B publication Seafood International with the organic product being selected as one of the “World’s Greenest Seafoods”.

Chief oyster grower Dan Dollimore says: “New Zealand has a well-earned reputation for best-practice aquaculture, acquired over several decades of initiating groundbreaking production methods. Naturally grown New Zealand oysters embody everything that is good about the industry, and at the forefront of this sector is the organic Kaipara Oyster.”

Dan Dollimore believes it is the growing methods deployed by Kaipara Oysters and the environmental practices that the growers have put in place that really make this fishery stand out.

“Our attitude is to ensure every aspect of the Kaipara operation is conducted in the most sustainable manner possible. We absolutely believe we’re establishing new benchmarks for environmentally sensitive oyster farming and responsible aquaculture production.

“We’re proud that our entire farm area is built only from products manufactured from recycled eco- friendly materials, including plastics. We’re still the first and only shellfish producer in the world that’s doing this, although I hope others will follow our lead and discover, as we did, that recycled plastics offer all the structural qualities of metal and wood materials.”

Dan Dollimore explains that because plastic cannot rust or rot, it only requires minimum maintenance and replacement. This results in less seabed disturbance, he says. In addition, from a marine bio-safety standpoint, plastic materials are easily cleaned and therefore less likely to carry disease or house harmful parasites.

The Kaipara farm site was established in 2008 when the Auckland Regional Council granted consent to allow a single 76-hectare commercial oyster farm to be established in the middle of the Kaipara Harbour, which is the largest harbour in the southern hemisphere and one of very few places on New Zealand’s wild and remote west coast where large tidal flows combine with stable sand banks to give shelter for sustainable oyster farming.

Incoming tides bring clean, nutrient-filled waters from the currents flowing from the Southern Ocean into the Tasman Sea. In following Kaipara Oysters’ philosophy to minimise the human footprint in the pristine Kaipara waters, the oysters, which are selected from naturally-caught spat (oyster seed), are left to the elements to grow for 12-18 months using the intertidal technique, which is exactly how nature intended they should be grown.