Millennials drive barramundi demand, sales

Published on
October 21, 2016

Demand for farmed and wild barramundi continues to increase in the United States, China and other countries around the world as millennials, seeking unique and sustainable foods, buy more of the fish.

Seeking to maximize returns on the growing popularity of barramundi, Sizzler Family Restaurants ran a limited-time promotion with barramundi earlier this year and Rubio’s Coastal Grille, which operates 196 restaurants in the U.S., also plans to add barramundi for limited time offers.

In addition, more U.S. retail chains, including BJ’s Wholesale Club, H.E.B., Central Market and Whole Foods Market, are carrying Australis barramundi on a regular basis. The fish typically retails for between USD 7.99 to USD 9.99 (EUR 7.28 to EUR 9.10) per pound.

Australis Aquaculture, LLC, based in Turner Falls, Massachusetts, U.S.A., the largest U.S. supplier of farmed barramundi, is also involved in the retail sector. It has a healthy private label business for barramundi, servicing supermarket companies such as Ahold.

Australis Marketing Director Julie Qiu attributes growing demand for barramundi to travelers who have visited Australia, where the fish is very popular, then seek it out when they return to the U.S. Many of those travelers happen to be millennials, who also generally seek out sustainable and environmentally-friendly products.

“Millennials are very much about knowing where their food comes from and investing in products that they can trust and that have a responsibility and sustainability story,” Qiu said.

Plus, millennials find barramundi “manageable and fun to cook at home, for themselves and their young families.”

Australis has built up its U.S. market with extensive retail and restaurant education and marketing. Australis brought on Qui last fall to “re-engage with chefs around the country who have a passion for sustainable seafood.” She has worked to establish relationships with both independent eateries and restaurant chains.

“Barramundi solves some of chefs’ biggest seafood challenges. It is always consistent and easy-to-cook,” said Qiu of Australis’s pre-cut, skin-on fillets and taco meat selections.

Earlier this month, Australis announced its acquisition of barramundi farmer Marine Farms’ operations in Vietnam, deepening its commitment to farming and selling barramundi globally.

“The Marine Farms acquisition substantially increases the number of farm sites and gives us the ability to efficiently scale our operations in central Vietnam for the foreseeable future,” said Australis CEO Josh Goldman in the announcement. “We are thrilled to consolidate production in a pristine location that is far from the industrial and human impacts found in many other locations in Asia."

Australis, which has had its own barramundi farm in Vietnam since 2007, needed to boost production to meet growing consumer demand in the U.S., Australia, China, Singapore and other countries, Goldman said.

“Customers are asking for it, rather than us aggressively opening up new markets,” he said.

Sales of Australis barramundi have grown “significantly” over the past several years as the company has boosted production at its Vietnam farm, Goldman told SeafoodSource.

“We are basically selling everything we can produce, with a healthy backlog,” Goldman said. “We see a lot of future demand as our volumes increase in the next few years.”

Contributing Editor

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