‘Celebrate with Australian seafood’: Australian seafood availability and price guide for Christmas 2021

‘Celebrate with Australian seafood’: Australian seafood availability and price guide for Christmas 2021

Comment from: 

  • Seafood Industry Australia
  • Queensland Seafood Marketers Association 
  • Sydney Fish Market
  • Brolos Western rock lobster
  • Australian Council Prawn Fisheries
  • Australian Prawn Farmers Association
  • Seafood Industry Victoria
  • Northern Territory Seafood Council 

Seafood Industry Australia – Veronica Papacosta, CEO

  • “If you want to be certain you’re eating sustainable, healthy, world-class seafood this Christmas, always ask for our great Australian seafood.”
  • “Consumers can expect to see a variety of prices for Australian seafood this Christmas, with the most fluctuation between wild-caught and aquaculture products.”
  • “As we saw last year, Australian Rock Lobsters are again a great buy. People can expect to find small, whole Western Rock Lobsters starting at the $20-25 price point, moving up to $30-32 whole for a 400-500g lobster.”
  • “People should be on the lookout for some of our more underutilised species like Mussels, Calamari or Octopus this Christmas. You might be able to nab yourself a seafood bargain, and maybe even find a new favourite. If you’re not sure how to cook something, take the time to ask your fishmonger for advice.”
  • Broad price guide for whole of country – please note prices fluctuate depending on location: 
    • Wild-caught extra-large King Prawns will be around $65-70 per kilo
    • Wild-caught large King Prawns  $50-52 per kilo
    • Wild-caught medium King Prawns $45-47 per kilo 
    • Extra-large Tiger Prawns $48-50 per kilo 
    • Large Tiger Prawns $46-48 per kilo 
    • Medium Tiger Prawns $44-46 per kilo 
    • Bugs $69-70 per kilo
    • Southern Rock Lobster $90-100 per kilo, average size of 800g-1kg, some at 1.2kg 
    • Eastern Rock Lobsters – $120-140 per kilo, average size of 1-1.5kg
    • Tropical Rock Lobster tails – $68 per kilo, average size of 190g 
      • “The Tropical Rock Lobster tails will be sitting around $27-28 each. The tails are uncooked and great for the BBQ, you also don’t have the wastage of the heads so you’re looking at close to the whole weight for the meat.”
  • “With international and domestic travel restrictions still in place, we’re seeing more people in Australia for Christmas than we have previously. This means there is an increased number of people wanting to eat Australian seafood at Christmas, this coupled with labour shortages across all sectors of agriculture means we could see supply stretched. To ensure you don’t miss out on your favourite Aussie seafood place an order with your local fishmonger early. Not sure when to find a retailer near you? Use our Fish Finder to search by postcode for great Australian seafood retailers near you at www.greataustralianseafood.com.au.”
  • “Australian Oysters are always great quality and ideal for easy Christmas entertaining; they’re one less thing you’ll need to fit in the oven. During December, the price of oysters usually rises by $2 per dozen. Pacific Oysters are coming out of season, and depending on temperatures they will begin to spawn. Because of this, there is a reliance on Sydney Rock Oysters which can push the price up. Sydney Rocks are in abundance this year, and in urban centres you’ll see them sitting around $30 per dozen for large and $25 a dozen for medium. 
  • “If you’re after fin-fish there is fantastic Australian Barramundi, Salmon, Ocean Trout and Snapper in the market. These are all stunning table fish and will make for a show stopping centrepiece. Both whole fish and fillets will be available and there shouldn’t be much of a change in price year round.” 

Queensland Seafood Marketers Association – Marshall Betzel, president 

  • “It’s been a hard 12-24 months and people deserve to be able to spoil themselves this Christmas, and what better way than with Queensland seafood.”
  • “We’re lucky here in Queensland with access to some of the greatest seafood in the world. We have the wonderful opportunity to choose where we spend our Christmas and where we’ll eat our seafood. We can enjoy a seafood meal in a venue, or we can visit our local retailers and have a beautiful Christmas seafood spread at home.”
  • “Tropical Lobsters are a good buy. You may be able to find them in retail for about $50 per kilo. There are still some limitations on export and it’s competing with the other Australian Rock Lobsters in the market from NSW, WA, SA and TAS so the prices are lower than they have been in the past years. These lobsters are from the Torres Strait and they look and taste fantastic. They’ll be a real show stopper.”
  • PRAWNS
    • Endeavour – $20 per kilo – “The Endeavour is a small, sweet praw that presents terrific value and from a Queensland perspective they’re an iconic species.”
    • Medium Queensland King Prawns – $35 per kilo
    • Large Queensland King Prawns – $50 per kilo 
    • Medium Queensland Tiger Prawns – $35 per kilo
    • Large Queensland Tiger Prawns – $50 per kilo
    • Banana Prawns – “The season wasn’t particularly good due to seasonal conditions like high rain, so people aren’t likely to find many Banana Prawns around. The Banana Prawn relies heavily on good rainfall and we didn’t have a huge wet season so they aren’t as bountiful as they are in a good wet season. We are looking to come into a La Nina this year, so we are confident it will bring more rain and you’ll see more Banana Prawns in the market in 2022.”
  • “Queensland Bugs are sitting at about $60 per kilo in retail and make for great eating.”

Sydney Fish Market – spokesperson 

  • “Sydney Fish Market will celebrate its 26th annual 36-Hour Seafood Marathon with the site’s retailers opening non-stop from 5am Thursday 23rd December, until 5pm Christmas Eve, with a plentiful supply of seafood for every Christmas celebration.”
  • “The event typically attracts up to 100,000 visitors and up to 370 tonnes of seafood is traded across the site.”
  • “Sydney Fish Market’s experiences some of its largest wholesale auctions of the year in the days leading into Christmas. By volume, the most traded species via Sydney Fish Market’s auction and direct sale in the week leading into Christmas 2020 included: Black Tiger Prawn, Tiger Flathead, Mud Crab, Eastern School Whiting, Sea Mullet, Blue Swimmer Crab, School Prawn, Yellowfin Tuna, Yellowtail Kingfish, Snapper, Western Rock Lobster and NZ King Salmon. SFM anticipates these species to be in abundance again in 2021.”
  • “Sydney Fish Market predicts that the market may see greater availability of fresh farmed Prawns due to the prawn farming industry being less impacted by White Spot disease this year.”
  • “It will also be another good year for Rock Lobster lovers, although with export recovering somewhat, Rock Lobsters may not be quite as cheap as last year.”
  • “Sydney Fish Market encourages consumers to buy Australian seafood this Christmas to ensure value for money, quality, and sustainability.”
  • “Australians are fortunate that we have an enormous range of quality seafood species to choose from at Christmas, with something to cater to all budgets. Sydney Fish Market has put together a guide on how to achieve a stunning Christmas seafood spread, including budget-friendly alternatives for Christmas favourites. Suggestions include:
    • “Gurnard/Latchet as an alternative for Flathead: Flathead are prized for their consistent, delicately textured flesh, which the Latchet replicates for a fraction of the cost.”
    • “Ocean Perch as a substitute for Snapper: Snapper is a favourite on Australian plates. A similar tasting fish which is underappreciated is the Bigeye Ocean Perch. It has a bright white flesh with a delicate flavour and moist texture, which can be enhanced by steaming or baking.”
    • “Swapping Atlantic Salmon for Rainbow/Ocean Trout: Ocean Trout has a similar colour and flavour profile to Atlantic Salmon when cooked and can be substituted into recipes that call for Salmon.”
    • “Scorpion Fish to replicate Lobster flesh: Lobster found its way to many Christmas tables last year, as prices dropped due to export issues, though it is typically one of the pricier seafoods. A surprising alternative for that lobster-y texture (though it doesn’t look as impressive), is Scorpion Fish.”
    • “Bream as an alternative for Barramundi: Barramundi remains a firm favourite due to its medium to large flake, mild flavour, low-medium oiliness, and moist flesh. Many white-fleshed species have similar characteristics, with Threadfin Bream being a fantastic low-cost option.”

Brolos Western rock lobster – spokesperson

  • Price/availability:
    • “Australia’s renewed love affair with West Australian rock lobster is set to continue this summer.”
    • “Improved accessibility throughout the country with thousands of supermarkets and seafood specialty stores stocking Brolos Western rock lobster.”
    • “Prices for smaller cooked lobster to start around $20 – $25 each.”
    • “Sharp prices and improved accessibility will continue beyond the Christmas period and through the summer period.”
  • Top tips for lobster preparation:
    • “Take your frozen lobster out on Christmas Eve and leave it in the fridge to defrost overnight.”
    • “If guests arrive early or you’re rushed for time, you can defrost WA rock lobster in a sink of cool water; smaller lobsters should only take 30 minutes to defrost.”
    • “If you’re planning to split your lobster to serve or cook, don’t split until you’re ready to prepare. This helps to prevent harmless oxidisation of the lobster meat.”

Australian Council Prawn Fisheries – Rachel King, Executive Officer

  • “The Australian Wild Prawn catch is lower across some fisheries this year.”
  • “QLD and NSW are still fishing and SA has just started so there may be more to come.”
  • “To get a taste of the wild for the Christmas table, the recommendation is to buy frozen to get ahead of the queues.”

Australian Prawn Farmers Association – Kim Hooper, CEO

  • Australian farmed prawns are the way to go this Christmas, according to the Australian Prawn Farmers Association.
  • “In Australia we are so fortunate to be able to buy great quality and sustainable seafood and we are again very excited by the quality and number of Aussie farmed prawns available this Christmas.” 
  • “We are seeing a bumper season for farmed prawns and although prices are determined by the retailers I am hearing that prices will be very attractive to consumers again this year.” 
  • “Farmed prawns have the added bonus of being very healthy and easy to prepare – you can’t go past the classic mango and lime prawn cocktail as an easy starter to festivities” Kim advised “and by buying Australian farmed prawns and seafood, you are supporting our local farmers and fishers.”

Seafood Industry Victoria – Joanne Butterworth-Grey, Independent Chair

  • Seafood Industry Victoria (SIV) Chair Joanne Butterworth-Gray said Victoria’s seafood industry produces more than 7,300 tonnes annually from a mix of wild-caught fisheries and aquaculture.
  • “King George whiting, calamari, snapper, abalone, rock lobster, trout, mussels, sea urchins are all part of what we know Victorians like to eat when it comes to seafood,” Ms Butterworth-Gray said.
  • “We know increasing numbers of consumers want to buy locally grown and sourced food.”

Northern Territory Seafood Council – Katherine Winchester, CEO

  • “Good news for Territorians this Christmas, with plentiful stocks being reported including NT Mud Crab, wild caught Barramundi, Goldband Snapper, Saddletail Snapper, Red Emperor, Farmed Barramundi and Territory squid.”
  • “Good supplies of the iconic NT Mud Crab are being reported with both live and cooked frozen Mud Crab available from retailers. Prices are expected to range from $50 to $55 per kg for live Mud Crab and $59 to $65 per kg for cooked frozen.”
  • “All year favourites, whole Goldband Snapper ($19 to $20 per kg) and Red Emperor ($22 to $25 per kg) are available. If you are looking for a whole fish that is a little easier on your budget, Saddletail Snapper and Mangrove Jack are available within a $14 to $17 per kg price range.”
  • “Other whole fish that are price favourites with many and also popular for their small plate size are whole Red Spot Emperor and Perch Moses which can be found around the $12.50 per kg.”
  • “With the NT Barramundi season finishing for the year on 30 September, Territorians can access frozen fillets of wild caught Barramundi or King Threadfin. Prices do vary, so shop around, with Barramundi prices ranging from $35 to $50 per kg and King Threadfin from $27 to $40 per kg.”
  • “NT squid is plentiful this year and is a great addition to any seafood platter hot or cold. Consumers have the option of tubes costing from $12 to $21 per kg or whole fresh squid at $30 per kg.”
  • “Territorian’s are spoilt for choice when it comes to NT seafood, with fish fillet option species including Rock Cod between $34 and $44 per kg, Spanish Mackerel from $22 to $35 per kg, Mangrove Jack ($35 to $42 per kg), Saddletail Snapper ($29 to $31 per kg) and Goldband Snapper ($43 to $49 per kg).”
  • “If you are looking to plate up some crispy skin Barramundi, you can’t go past Humpty Doo Barramundi with skin on fillets ranging from $35 to $40 per kg.”
  • “Stocks that will be harder to find this Christmas include Spanish Mackerel and Black Jewfish:
    • Spanish Mackerel is available in some fish retail, so you might need to check with your local retailer. Customers fortunate enough to get fillets or cutlets will expect to pay from $20 to $26 per kg depending on the cut.
    • Professional fishing for Black Jewfish is dependent on tides and weather, so leading into Christmas could be a little hit or miss in the shops to secure freshly caught with fillet prices likely to range from $24 to $32 per kg.”   
  • “If you enjoy NT cuttlefish, you might be in luck with stock just starting to appear ($14 to $16 per kg).”