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Barra’s big bite in the Big Apple

Succulent fillets of Australian barramundi were employed for Valentines Day at Trump Tower restaurant, New York City, this week and other fine eateries across the USA as diners relish the introduction of our ‘barra’ to the US market. Within 18 months, ASX listed company Australis Aquaculture have customised the largest indoor fish farm in the US, stocked it with fish and developed a national distribution network of 114 wholesalers, wrapping it up with a branded sales program for barramundi in the US market. Australis managing director, Stewart Graham, said production and sales were rising, with weekly sales currently at 6,500kg of whole fish and a large opening order from a US supermarket chain expected within weeks. "This already equates to more than 50,000 Americans a month dining on our fish, and this number is expected to double in the next three months," he said. The US seafood market is currently consuming 2 million tones per annum. And it is growing, with heightened consumer awareness of ‘healthier foods’, which Australis hopes to hook in to by promoting the barrumundi as a high quality, healthy and sustainable product. The company was listed on the stock exchange in August 2004 after purchasing the USA’s largest indoor fish grow-out facility (by culture volume) the previous month, within proximity to the $2 billion a year wholesale seafood distribution hub of Boston, Massachusetts. The Note understands modifications were made to the facility at Turner’s Falls in order to replicate the natural habitat of the iconic tropical Australian Barramundi, which recently arrived at the farm as a brood fish. The facility has since produced 500,000 new-born barramundi hatchlings in its comfortable new accommodation. One of three Australian hatcheries contracted to Australis will air freight 200,000 barramundi fingerlings directly to JFK Airport in New York every six weeks. A new expansion under construction may further increase production to 1,000 tonnes per annum, with a consideration of approximately A$12 million for the company. With a new barramundi hatchery up and swimming, Australis intends to provide a reliable year-round supply of fingerlings for the envisaged 4,000 tonnes per annum future production.

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