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New Zealand Mussels Hit China

CHINA - Shandong Oriental Ocean Group has agreed to stock its new chain of premium seafood stores opening in China with New Zealand greenshell mussels.

A delegation from Opotiki in the Eastern Bay of Plenty - which has resource consent to set up the country's biggest mussel farm - negotiated the deal during a trip to China last month, reports China Daily.

Oriental Ocean is based in Yantai, Tauranga's sister city, and the firm's president, Professor Che Shi, will visit the region in September to sign the deal.

Professor Shi is also vice-president of China's aquaculture industry group, and his company plans to open 500 stores throughout China over three years.

He has indicated the deal could eventually amount to 20,000 tonnes a year - almost two-thirds of mussel exports in 2008, $204.25 million for 33,300 tonnes.

About 11,000 tonnes went to the United States in 2008, which was by far the biggest export market for greenshell mussels.

New Zealand Greenshell, which farms in the Coromandel, will supply Oriental Ocean, with Opotiki's Eastern Seafarms coming on board once its production is established.

New Zealand Greenshell managing director Peter Vitasovich said the 20,000-tonne figure was far from concrete, but a first shipment to Oriental Oceans was expected once the new mussel season began in October.

A group of firms - Aotearoa Seafood, New Zealand Greenshell, Pacifica Seafood and Sanford - have also set up an office in China to market under the name New Zealand Pure Greenshell Mussels.

Opotiki's delegation also negotiated with Oriental Ocean to receive expertise and direct cash investment for a sea cucumber farm.

the Fish Site Editor

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