The taste of a creamy Sydney rock oyster doused with a zing of lemon is about to go global after oyster farmers Australia’s Oyster Coast (AOC) received a $10 million investment from the NSW Government-backed GO NSW Equity Fund.
The South Coast-based company will be able to double its workforce to 75 people, creating 40 new full-time jobs and another 20 jobs indirectly in local economies, with the investment of $3.3 million from Jobs for NSW and $6.7 million from fund partner First State Super.
Company CEO and lifelong seafood devotee, Mark Allsopp, says that AOC, started in 2013 by a group of oyster farmers, can now harvest their offerings—including Sydney Rock, Pacific and the rare angasi ‘flat’ oysters—from different estuaries throughout the year to provide a consistent supply of premium product.
‘We founded AOC to eliminate the peaks and troughs of seasonal quality variations within the supply chain’, says Mark. ‘Now there are 45 shareholders in the company who are from oyster farming families.’
Although NSW has always had a strong consumer market for oysters, until now an undersupply of product and a fragmented sector made of many small growers has hampered the industry’s ability to expand nationally and overseas.
By bringing a group of farmers together, AOC aimed to overcome those difficulties, but after a few years in operation found that they needed additional investment to scale up quickly and appropriately supply their target markets.
With the $10 million investment, AOC can now expand their farming and processing operations, improve their infrastructure, access economies of scale, and invest in marketing their pristine oysters.
Pleasing the international palate
The company’s future plans involve targeting top-tier restaurants and premium markets across the Asia–Pacific region, relying on the fulsome flavour and long shelf life of Sydney rock oysters to win over new customers.
Mark and his team have also created a 300 kilometre ‘oyster trail’, which directs local and international tourists to restaurants, providores and farmers throughout the South Coast region.
‘In the same way that people enjoy the terroir of a vineyard when they do a cellar door wine tasting, people can appreciate the merroir of flavour and environment between different oyster estuaries’, says Mark.
Download Taking Sydney rock oysters to the Asia–Pacific