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Meet a member – Kaz Bartaska

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Kaz Bartaska, founder and managing director of Kansom Australia, started his career in 1968 with BHP as a ship chartering officer. He studied Ecomonics and Politics at Monash University and Marketing at Chisolm Institute of Technology.

In 1985 he established Lonimar Australia Pty Ltd as a processor and marketer of Asian Specialty Seafoods (Abalone, Sea Cucumber annd Shark’s Fin). The company was rebranded in 2008 as Kansom Australia Pty Ltd and is known internationally as an innovator leading in the processing, value-adding and marketing of gourmet seafoods.

Kaz often dined with the Captain of visiting Asian vessels chartered by BHP.  “To experience ‘real’ Asian food and its culture back in those days was an extraordinary experience and fuelled my love of Asian cuisine” Kaz says.

This sparked Kaz’s passion for the food industry and he landed a job at SPC (fruit canners) who owned a small abalone canning company in Melbourne. Kaz was responsible for International sales and marketing thus was able to experience the Asian seafood market first hand. Later Kaz migrated to Ardmona as International Sales & Marketing manager.

In 1985, Kaz left SPC to start his own Marketing company (Lonimar Australia) to process and sell Australian Abalone and other exotic seafood products. Lonimar, now rebranded as Kansom Australia, expanded to include production facilities in Perth, King Island, Fiji and Tonga. In the Pacific Islands they processed Sea Cucumber and Shark’s Fin products, exported live Lobster and Abalone from King Island, and processed Abalone in Perth.

“Our core business is value added abalone and seafood waste recovery. We are now 34 years in business and our products are sold domestically and are exported throughout Asia, North America and Europe,” Kaz says.

Kansom has invested heavily into research and development of seafood waste recovery for the purpose of value adding. They produced the world’s first Abalone Sauce from Abalone viscera more than 20 years ago and this has become a major sauce category in Asia.  The same has been done with scallop viscera and they are exploring new opportunities in seafood products with high waste components for other products.

 Kaz is passionate about the future of Australian seafood and has a vision for our 8.2 million square metre Exclusive Economic zone.  “We should be the home of the healthiest environmentally sustainable seafood source in the world. Australians should have secure access to eat fresh, healthy seafood and we should be known internationally for our seafood. It should be a major attraction for overseas and local tourists.”

Kaz believes Australia needs infrastructure along its coast and capital cities to service this untapped opportunity.  “We should be acknowledged as the world’s best science, fishing practise and value adding post-harvest sector. Our harvest sector should become and be recognised as the true guardians of our marine environment.  A powerful and capable lobby group is the only way we will achieve this!”