SEAFOODNEWS.COM [West Australian] by Brad Thompson - Sept. 5, 2014
SHANGHAI -A former Australian abalone diver based in Esperance has pulled off a joint venture deal to give a band of WA seafood producers direct access to shoppers in Shanghai.
Marcus Tromp brokered the deal through his friendship with Organic Ocean chief executive Haiping Hu, one of the rising stars of China's seafood industry.
Mr Hu is a seafood producer and importer with 30 stores and access to the Shanghai Free Trade Zone.
Abalone fishermen representing about 70 per cent of the WA quota and producing 180 tonnes a year set up export company Dragon King to buy into the joint venture with Organic Ocean.
The other WA seafood producers set to benefit are Indian Ocean Rock Lobster, Shark Bay Seafood, WA Octopus and Cone Bay Barramundi.
Mr Tromp said all had the option of buying into the joint venture if the export and retail model proved a success.
Frozen abalone individually packaged in Esperance were yesterday sold wholesale for about $65 apiece inside the SFTZ while frozen lobster packaged in Cervantes retailed for $140/kg.
Mr Tromp, general manager of Dragon King, said it was a milestone for WA seafood and opened the door to big savings in freight and WA brand recognition.
"The model we are working on is not only displaying WA seafood together but shipping together," he said.
"Once we get brand recognition containers will leave Fremantle by sea freight so we save on air freight.
"By collaborating we can save significant money on freight."
Mr Tromp said the deal was an important step in ensuring access to the Chinese market after the WA abalone industry took a big hit under austerity measures introduced by President Xi Jinping early last year.
He said though sales to government agencies in China had dried up, sales to the private sector were recovering.