US West Coast oyster popularity surges
Capital City Oyster in Olympia, Washington, U.S.A., is capitalizing on the global surge in oyster demand as millennials and other demographic groups become more open to eating the shellfish – and trying oysters from new regions – when they eat out.
In just its second year of production, the oyster farm has quickly grown to provide international shipping, and its oysters are featured in upscale restaurants throughout the United States and Canada. It moves more than 100,000 pieces weekly.
“It is now one of the most popular oysters on the West Coast,” Kate Muirhead, director of public affairs, told SeafoodSource at Seafood Expo North America in Boston, Massachusetts, 19 to 21 March. Plus, the oyster producer recently expanded to three-star Michelin restaurants in the New York City market, she said.
At SENA, Capital City introduced Capital Reserve, its second premium product line (its first is Capital City). The Capital Reserve, a 15-foot tide-tumbled, deep cup, barnacle-free oyster, is completely smooth on the outside. It is produced on the company’s farm in Spencer Cove, Harstine Island, Washington.
“The reason our chefs are preferring our oysters is that they are barnacle-free, with a beautiful smooth shell,” Muirhead said. “And that is done naturally. Chefs like to know there are fewer chemicals and pesticides being used [in seafood production].”
With the stable salinity in the Spencer Cove area throughout the year, Capital City oysters have a briny flavor. They are harvested from the farm the same day the chef orders them, instead of cold-storing the oysters in a warehouse, according to Muirhead.
Despite increased demand, Capital City executives are not concerned about running out of oysters.
“These are one of the fastest-growing oysters. They take seven to 12 months to reach maturity,” said Muirhead, referring to Capital City as a “volume premium oyster” supplier.