A survey of jellyfish products in both the domestic and Japanese markets showed that dried whole and low value semi-prepared jellyfish was available, but there was a clearly demonstrated demand for a convenience food product. In Japan, reports indicated that demand for high quality jellyfish has always exceeded supply to date and retail prices range from AUD 8/kg to AUD 85/kg depending on the product form and quality.
The world market demand for dried jellyfish is around 25,000 tonnes per year, with the main producers being China, Indonesia and Malaysia. In recent years, Asian countries have found that their local wild jellyfish stocks have declined and have approached Australia for access to our unutilised resource. The jellyfish species, Catostylus mosaicus, is identifed as one of ten species that are traditionally used as a food product and is seemingly abundant in Australian waters. Preliminary feed back from buyers of dried processed jellyfish indicate that Australian product would be comparable to that considered as high quality in their markets.
One of the major impediments to establishing a viable commercial fishery for jellyfish in Australia is the lack of value-adding options for the industry. Seafood processors have high-lighted this issue and emphasized the lack of available knowledge of jellyfish processing techniques.
The focus of this project was to develop a high value ready-to-eat jellyfish product for the Japanese and other Asian markets. To achieve this outcome, all the aspects of producing dried jellyfish were investigated including harvesting, transport, the drying process, stabilisation of the dried-product and storage. Then the product development was considered including factors of: most appropriate rehydration process; cooking and cooling process; desired product texture and appearance; marinade formulation; jellyfish to marinade ratio; consumer preference for product quantity and product packaging.
We therefore measured the physical, microbial and sensory attributes of the product. The product and the package design was assessed by consumers who were familiar with, and commonly ate, jellyfish.
Results showed that the Australian jellyfish species Catostylus mosaicus is ideally suited for processing for the Asian market. The finished product appears to be more opaque and yellow-coloured than imported salted products, although this did not affect the acceptability of the jellyfish end-product produced. The appearance of the salted jellyfish was perceived as ‘expensive looking’ by the two Japanese consumers recruited to assist in establishing cooking and preparation parameters. Difficulty was experienced in defining cooking and marinating regimes as little documented information is available. This difficulty was compounded by advice from several consumer sources conflicting with results from sensory trials.
Keywords: jellyfish, dried, processing, sensory evaluation, Asian market