Australia's seafood sector gets boost from growth in local appetite

Published on
January 7, 2021

Australia’s seafood industry recorded 30 percent growth in its sales in December, and trade group Seafood Industry Australia is thanking the country’s residents for supporting the industry through the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press statement, SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta said that the bump in sales during Christmas holidays was made possible through the support of the Australians to the industry.

“It’s no secret 2020 was a hard year for the Australian seafood industry,” SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta said. “We needed a bumper Christmas period to help us claw our way back. We called on the community to support us and switch one meal on the Christmas table to Australian seafood, and we are beyond thrilled to report they did just that.”

Papacosta said the surge in sales came from all parts of the country and was spread amongst many of Australia’s most-popular seafood species, and that it was much-need for the industry, coming at the end of a very difficult year for the Australian seafood sector.

“It’s encouraging to see so many Aussies supporting their local seafood producers and we hope this continues,” Papacosta said. “Australian prawns, rock oysters, crabs, and [lobsters] were the most popular this season, with Australian rock lobsters finding a very welcome home as a table centerpiece. This 2020 surprise Christmas hit was made possible thanks to the major retailers, Woolworths and Coles, and our fantastic network of independent retailers all chipping in to help us get more Aussie seafood onto Aussie tables.”

But Papacosta said the industry continues to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and she pleaded with consumers to continue supporting the local seafood industry.

“While we’ve had wonderful festive sales, this doesn’t mean we’re completely in the clear, but this goes a long way to help,” she said. “Our key foodservice and export markets are still trending down, and as an industry we continue to be impacted by the ongoing trade riff with China.”

Tensions between China and Australia have been growing against a background of rising strategic competition between China and the United States, a close Australian ally. Chinese officials warned of a boycott of food imports from Australia when the Australian government called for an independent global inquiry on China’s handling of COVID-19, and in November, China moved to block imports of Australian lobsters.

SIA has asked that just one percent of the population switch one meal per week to locally sourced seafood, which could translate to sales of an additional 250,000 meals per week of Australian seafood.  

Photo courtesy of ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock

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