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SAY IT WITH OYSTERS

12-08-2020
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Australia’s highly prized Pacific oysters have found their voice thanks to Tasmanian Oyster Co.

Thanks to the assistance of a co-funding grant from the Federal Government’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC), Tasmanian Oyster Co. will develop a new, game-changing laser etching system that allows the company to etch a logo onto an oyster shell.

The technology aims to differentiate Australian Pacific oysters – some of the few able to be consumed direct from the ocean due to pristine growing environments – from the highly farmed items that make up 80 per cent of the world’s oyster supply.

The laser-etched brand mark will provide customers with peace of mind concerning the quality and provenance of the product.

“Probably one of the biggest challenges is being able to distinguish our product from others, either here or in export markets,” says Simon Rechner, project manager at Tasmanian Oyster Co.

“We think Australian oysters are some of the best in the world, but being able to market overseas is very difficult. An oyster sold in Singapore, Japan and Australia, without something on it to say where it comes from, could be from anywhere.”

The new CO2-based laser etching technology changes that, Rechner says, and gives Tasmanian Oyster Co. a great opportunity to grow its brand post-COVID.

“AMGC helped us expand our thinking to export markets.”

It’s estimated the solution will increase the “product to price density” by $5 per dozen oysters sold, add $7 million to the Tasmanian oyster industry through the new authentication and marketing possibilities, and provide a $3.5 million increase in revenues to Tasmanian Oyster Co. through an estimated 25 per cent growth in exports.

AMGC managing director Dr Jens Goennemann says opportunities for Australian manufacturers lie in competing on value, not cost, and brand Australia is in high demand right now.

“What Tasmanian Oyster Co. will do is add value to their product through the adoption of advanced technology while also being able to highlight the country of origin for their products,” he says.

“In developing this new technology Tasmanian Oyster Co. will also streamline shellfish processing, open up the greater export potential for their products and possibly even exports of the new technology.”

Tasmanian Oyster Co.’s laser etching will be rolled out to Tasmanian oyster growers, helping them present “a united front” in export markets. It will then be offered to growers in other states within the $112 million Australian oyster market and possibly other shellfish lines.

Successful completion of the project is expected to generate an additional 20 Australian jobs across the engineering, manufacturing, sales and service disciplines in the long term.

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