Australian fisheries production has been declining in recent years, and there appears to be little potential to significantly increase this production in the medium term. Most of Australia's commercial fisheries are operating at their maximum (available) capacity, and the commercial imperative now is for these groups to maximise the value of production from the limited and in some cases, declining resources.
The future of the industry shall be largely related to how well the industry is able to adjust to new market conditions under such environmental and resource constraints.
At present, large amounts of fish waste occur in the industry due to either waste material such as fish frames or low commercial value species and ‘incidental' bycatch material.
There is a need for the industry to maximise its yields and commercial returns for the limited industry resource. Industry profitability and sustainability depends upon key issues such as maximising commercial yields, value-adding and product development.
Similarly, recent industry reports (eg, Retail World, BIS Shrapnel) have confirmed that while retail fresh seafood sales are growing, canned and frozen seafood products account for the majority of sales with $360 million in retail sales in Australia.
The frozen segment is dominated by frozen fillets and fish fingers which is primarily sourced from imported frozen fish. Indeed it has been reported that Simplot and I&J which control over 50% of the Australian market by volume and value, are about to commence aggressive expansion plans for their frozen products. Similarly Sealord which is Simplot's brand for fillet product is rebuilding its market with new species and product development.
These sources confirm that the Australian food service and retail market are major growth areas for value-added, ‘reformed' food products.
This proposal for ‘product development' however is not aimed to develop 'another fish finger' or to be a 'me too' product. Rather it aims to be a new differentiated product using low value resource material to capitalise on defined market opportunities and international market experience. Clearly market research for these product opportunities shall be a key part of the proposal.
The focus shall be on identifying market opportunities and available resources of Australian fish waste to capitalise upon existing international product development experience .