Virtual fish markets are embraced by the seafood industry as it moves online in an effort to cope with the slowdown in the coronavirus pandemic.
- New South Wales seafood retailers moved to online ordering and delivery to keep business afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Professional Fisher’s Association Works With Department of Primary Industries To Help Industry Go Digital
- Shrimp and local fish expected to become staple food at depressed prices
The prices of fine foods such as prawns have dropped as low as $ 19 per kilogram in recent times due to the lack of exports to international markets and restaurant closings.
This caused a surge in seafood sales at Coffs Harbor on the north coast of NSW, where a cooperative sold two tonnes of seafood locally in four days.
“We were surprised at the volumes we sold, it was encouraging before Easter,” said Bob St John general manager, Coffs Harbor Fishermen’s Cooperative.
“The price of seafood is very comparable to beef and pork right now – these products have gone through the roof.”
He hopes that the cooperative will continue to stock up at a competitive price to encourage residents to include seafood in their staple food.
While many customers continue to visit co-operatives and fish markets to hand pick the seafood of their choice, the industry has explored different approaches as social locks persist.
Seafood hanging online
The fishermen’s cooperative at Coffs Harbor and others along the coast of New South Wales have adopted online orders and deliveries for the first time to keep customers buying local seafood.
Professional Fisher’s Association executive director Tricia Beatty said she was working with the Primary Industries Department to help the industry transition to an online delivery system.
Tricia Beatty is the CEO of the Professional Fisher’s Association of NSW. (ABC News: Kerrin Thomas)
She said models similar to the online food site G-Fresh are being analyzed to develop an approach that could work for all fishos and retailers.
“We have looked at what works best for fishermen who are tech savvy and want to get into this type of arena and others who don’t and how can we help these guys too?”
“We need to make sure everyone has access to seafood online.”
Fish markets go west
Seafood companies on the south coast exploit domestic farmers’ markets to maintain incomes.
Hayley Abbott of Narooma Seafood has sold his catch to the Riverina farmers’ market in Wagga Wagga in the past two weeks.
She said the opportunity to sell in the western farmers market was a “disguised blessing”.
On Thursday, it only took 23 minutes to sell all the shrimp and lobster at the Riverina Farmers Market in Wagga Wagga.
(ABC Riverina: Cara Jeffery)
“We usually export 80% of our tuna and 10% we sell wholesale and to restaurants, so with the collapse of all these markets, this has given us enough stock to head west,” said Abbott .
Despite the positive inner pivot for their business, Abbott said the industry was in uncharted waters.
“COVID-19 has a huge impact on our business, not just in our region, but for many seafood companies in Australia,” she said.