Global king salmon demand drives expansion for this company

Tahunanui, N.Z.-based New Zealand King Salmon is expanding capacity, thanks to increased global demand for its Ora King farmed salmon.

“Ora King is in high demand in premium niche markets around the world, and we cannot keep up with supply,” New Zealand King Salmon Chief Executive Grant Rosewarne told SeafoodSource. The supplier ships its Ora King salmon to upscale restaurants in 20 countries. Its primary markets include Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Japan and some European countries.

New Zealand King Salmon is still in negotiation with regional councils in New Zealand, but the new farm’s facility may be based in Southland. “Before talking location, some growing space needs to be allocated by Environment Southland. We have a meeting … to listen to a space proposal from Venture Southland and after/if space is made available, we can talk about location,” Rosewarne said.

The new production area would have to be able to sustain at least 7,000 metric tons (MT) of production, Rosewarne added.

The processor already has a production facility in Marlborough for Ora King and has extensive distribution of its salmon products via its Regal retail brand and Southern Ocean brand. Overall, the company produces 6,000 MT of gilled and gutted salmon annually.

Sales for the New Zealand King Salmon’s Ora King line have grown because the company has “invested a huge amount of money and resources breeding a superb salmon … specifically targeting what chefs want,” Rosewarne said. He believes Ora King’s “green” certification from Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program and from Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program also benefits the brand’s sales.

Rosewarne declined to give specific sales growth numbers for the company. “Unfortunately, we have not grown at all in volume terms, because we have been constrained by space,” he said.

In addition to the planned new location that will potentially be in Southland, the company recently began operating the first of three new farms. “We expect an extra 1,000 tons this time next year,” Rosewarne said. “This will not meet the demands of our existing customers, let alone new ones.”


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