‘Tis the season to get stuck into seafood’: Australian seafood availability and prices for Christmas 2020

‘Tis the season to get stuck into seafood’: Australian seafood availability and prices for Christmas 2020

SEAFOOD INDUSTRY AUSTRALIA (SIA)

Please attribute all comments to CEO Veronica Papacosta

  • ‘Tis the season to get stuck into seafood. 
  • Gone are the days of the traditional roast, now a beautiful spread of Great Australian Seafood has firmly cemented its place as the centrepiece for the quintessential Aussie Christmas lunch. 
  • With beautiful warm weather expected for the big day, people don’t want to slave over a hot stove when they can call into their local fishmonger, grab some Great Australian Seafood and throw together an Aussie seafood platter. Easy As. 
  • While the variety of Australian seafood on offer this Christmas period is endless, our prawns are traditionally the biggest seller.
  • Australian Prawn prices will remain stable, and there will be a number of prawns across a variety of sizes and prices for consumers to choose from.
  • A big bowl of Australian Prawns are still the best thing to have sitting at the centre of the table, and better yet there’s no cooking required. 
  • At Christmas everybody wants the biggest prawns they can get, but size shouldn’t count. The King Prawn is designed to make your guests say, ‘oh wow’, and while they’re impressive, they’re not always the best eating. People can save some money and go for a smaller prawn like a medium Tiger Prawn, a Crystal Bay Prawn, or a small King Prawn. You’ll see prices for these sitting around the high $30s.
  • Another way to get around the prices is to buy green prawns and cook them yourself. Green prawns are usually about $10 cheaper a kilogram and are great to throw on the BBQ, or in a pan with some butter and garlic.
  • Broad price guide for whole of country – please note prices fluctuate depending on location: 
    • Cooked Australian Tiger Prawns $34-49 per kilo
    • Cooked Australian King Prawns $40-69 per kilo
    • Cooked Australian School Prawns $22-28 per kilo
    • Green Australian Banana Prawns $29-39 per kilo
    • Green Australian King Prawns $32-48 per kilo
    • Green Australian Endeavor Prawns $20-30 per kilo
  • Moreton Bay Bugs are fantastic for Christmas. They’re great quality this year and should absolutely be considered for the table. 
  • Australian Oysters are always great quality, perfect for easy Christmas entertaining, and they’re one less thing you’ll need to fit in the oven. Buy them shucked and serve them or a big platter with a wedge of lemon.
  • During December, the price of oysters usually rises by $3-5 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.  
  • One of the quickest and easiest things you can do to cater for a lot of people is to put a whole fish in the oven or on the BBQ. Keep a lookout for Tasmanian Atlantic Salmon which is well priced this year, Australian Barramundi, and Australian Tropical Snappers like Saddletail, Ruby and Goldband. They are in season, impressive and good eating. 
  • Don’t look past Australian mussels, calamari or octopus. They’re really well priced and are great on the BBQ over summer.
  • We think there will be an abundance of Australian Lobsters (Eastern Rock, Southern Rock and Western Rock) on the domestic market this year which will see prices ranging from $60-120 per kilo, whole; depending on species, size and location. 
  • To ensure you don’t miss out on your Aussie seafood this festive season it’s always

a good idea to place an order with your local fishmonger early. 

Great Australian Seafood brand launch 

  • The Australian seafood industry was the first and worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our export markets collapsed, our foodservice sector was shut down, and our domestic markets were flooded with produce. 
  • Earlier this year, the Coalition announced a $4 million marketing grant, funded by the Australian Government under the $1 Billion COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund, as a direct response to the coronavirus pandemic and the need to deliver a boost to our industry.
  • On November 8, we launched our first whole-of-industry brand similar to those of Australian beef, lamb and pork called, Great Australian Seafood, and with it our first campaign to encourage Australians to eat more Australian seafood. 
  • This campaign is led by industry, for industry to drive a much needed boost to the entire Australian seafood supply chain, including wild-caught, aquaculture and post-harvest retailers by driving domestic sales. 
  • We’ve structured the campaign to remind consumers Australian seafood is ‘easy as’ to cook and incorporate into daily life. 

NORTHERN PRAWN FISHERY (NPF)

Please attribute all comments to CEO Annie Jarrett.

  • We’ve had a solid banana prawn season with tonnage around 3500 tonnes of bananas, which are mostly in the Coles/Woolies cabinets and readily available in the deli at Christmas.
  • Australia’s NPF MSC certified banana prawns are perfect for your Christmas day lunch and are good buying at the moment and fantastic value at around $23.00/kg in supermarkets for green prawns.
  • Both NPF species of tiger and green banana prawns are MSC certified so should be sought after by consumers.

AUSTRALIAN BARRAMUNDI FARMERS ASSOCIATION (ABFA)

Please attribute all comments to CEO Jo-Anne Ruscoe 

  • There are plentiful supplies of beautiful, fresh Australian farmed barramundi over Christmas – and indeed throughout the year from major supermarkets and specialty seafood retailers. There are a range of sizes available from whole baby barra to 3-4 kg fish and fillets. Barramundi is the perfect Aussie Christmas BBQ fish dish, and if you missed out on Lennox Hastie’s free masterclass on National Barramundi Day, you can watch it here: www.australianbarramundi.com.au/masterclass/ 
  • Our tip is to always #askforAussie barra!”

AUSTRALIAN PRAWN FARMERS ASSOCIATION (APFA)

Please attribute all comments to CEO Kim Hooper

  • With strong growing conditions in North Queensland, expect solid supply of cooked farmed Tiger Prawns this Christmas. We expect a high demand this festive season with consumers preparing more meals at home and more often. Prawns are the easy go to!
  • Their bright orange colour, sweet and juicy taste make Tiger Prawns the perfect prawn to serve and are available in a variety of sizes to meet your budget.  Fun fact: Did you know prawns are an excellent source of protein, are rich in selenium, one of the most effective antioxidants at maintaining healthy cells and high in Zinc, which is important to develop a healthy immune system and that their heart is in their head! 

AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL OF PRAWN FISHERS (ACPF)

Please attribute all comments to CEO Rachel King

  • There’s strong interest in purchasing local Australian seafood this year. Australians are encouraged to buy early, and stash banana, king and tiger prawns in the freezer to avoid the Christmas rush. 
  • Check out Love Australian Prawns for recipes and how-to with prawns and Australian Wild Prawns for the people, places and what we care about when catching our wild prawns for your Christmas feasts.
  • Overall there will be a tighter supply of Australian prawns for Christmas. This is due to some subdued harvests in our larger wild fisheries like NPF and Qld East coast. The Spencer Gulf fishers are still out fishing, a closure in Queenland’s South east is due to end on Nov 20th, so there is still the chance of more wild prawns coming to market. But the overall picture is of subdued wild supply. The reason – nature. Harvests are linked to rainfall and a whole number of other factors, and this year isn’t outside the normal variation.
  • Prawn farms in the north are well stocked and anticipate plenty of fresh and frozen product heading down to supermarkets from Queensland.
  • In any normal year this tightening of supply wouldn’t be an issue, as there’s still plenty to go around.
  • The reason we’re encouraging people to grab a box of frozen prawns now if they see a good deal is that there are a million extra people at home who had plans to be overseas at Christmas and it’s this extra demand that’s going to impact availability.
  • Fun Facts:
    • We consume 40% of the prawns consumed over the whole year at Christmas. (YouGov stats)
    • We’ve estimated there are 24 medium sized Australian Prawns for every man, woman and child in Australia in 2020.
    • So if you ate a dozen Australian Prawns at Easter and eat dozen more at Christmas, the next prawn you eat is someone else’s.

SYDNEY FISH MARKET (SFM)

Please attribute all comments to a Sydney Fish Market spokesperson

  • Sydney Fish Market and our retailers work with hundreds of different suppliers across Australia to secure enough seafood for customers at Christmas time. 
  • Australians are fortunate to have access to a variety of healthy seafood producing regions across the country, the supply of which has not been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Aussies can be assured that there will be sufficient supply of the Christmas favourites to meet the increased demand during the festive season. 
  • Top picks for value and abundance this year include: prawns, Barramundi, Blue Mackerel, Snapper, oysters, Blue Mussels and Blue Swimmer Crab.
  • For those concerned about price point, this Christmas might be a good opportunity to try something different, such as Scorpion Fish (a great alternative to Rocklobster), Gould’s Squid and Bigeye Ocean Perch. 
  • Instead of reaching for the biggest prawns available, the insider’s tip is to try the small to medium sized varieties, which are sweeter, tastier and often a much lower price. With a projected ‘La Nina’ weather event developing this summer, the expected rains should see a rebound in numbers of Prawns, crabs and other estuarine seafood species.
  • Christmas Fast facts at Sydney Fish Market:
    • 130 tonnes of Prawns and close to 1,000,000 Oysters will be traded across the site for Christmas.
    • Prices at Christmas can range from less than $5kg for species like Blue Mackerel, School Whiting, Sea Mullet and Blue Mussels up to nearly $200kg for Rock Lobster and King Crab.  
    • Notable species at Christmas include (estimated volumes traded across the site):
      • 40 tonnes of Rock Lobster
      • 30 tonnes of Barramundi
      • 30 tonnes of Kingfish
      • 40 tonnes of Snapper
      • 25 tonnes of Tuna 

TASMANIAN SEAFOOD INDUSTRY COUNCIL (TSIC)

Please attribute all comments to EO Julian Harrington

  • #EatMoreSeafood this Christmas. And if you buy fresh, sustainable, locally produced Tasmanian seafood, you will support local fishers and farmers, and the communities they live in.
  • There will be no shortage of supply, with plenty of oysters, hot and cold smoked as well as fresh salmon, Bass Strait scallops and a range of other fresh wild caught fish available.
  • Want to try something new or different, then go to your local fishmonger and ask about some of the underutilised species they have in stock. They will even provide advice on preparation and cooking, and these species are often easier on the pocket.
  • With rock lobster fishers gearing up to sell direct off their boat, you should be able to get a pretty good deal on a live lobster.
  • If you want to know where to buy seafood retail or through a food service outlet, then visit the Seafood Trails web-based app at https://www.seafoodtrails.com.au/. This platform also allows you to learn more about our dynamic seafood industry.
  • #EatMoreSeafood this Christmas. Buy Local – Support your Community.

NORTHERN TERRITORY SEAFOOD COUNCIL (NTSC)

Please attribute all comments to CEO Katherine Winchester

  • NT stocks that are being reported as plentiful this Christmas including Spanish Mackerel, Goldband Snapper, Saddletail Snapper, Crimson Snapper, Red Emperor and Farmed Barramundi.
    • Spanish Mackerel will be available and customers can pick from fillets to cutlets with pricing ranging from $20 to $26 per kg depending on the cut.
    • An all year favourite, Goldband Snapper with whole fish around $16 to 20 per kg, also available in a similar price range is Saddletail Snapper and Crimson Snapper are also ranging from $13 to $15 per kg.
    • If you are looking to impress, a great centerpiece would be a whole Red Emperor, prices are expected to be between $22 to $25 per kg.
    • Currently there are good supplies of NT Cuttlefish which is popular with consumers at the moment selling from $12 to 14 per kg.  
  • Stocks that will be harder to find [in the NT] this Christmas include mud crab, wild caught barramundi, squid and Black Jewfish:
    • Mud Crab catches have been low all year with some retailers reporting extreme difficulty in sourcing. There will be some retailers with green frozen crabs so consumers are best to check in with their retailer on whether there are any expected deliveries due before Christmas. If in stock, prices are expected to be around the $50 to $60 per kg price range.
    • If Territorians are thinking of feasting on wild caught Barramundi or King Threadfin they will need to shop around, as the 2020 season saw low catches, prices likely to be between $28 to $35 per kg.  
    • NT squid will also be harder to secure this Christmas, with low catches reported this year. Consumers may see small volumes in retail outlets at around $28 per kg whole.
    • Fishing for Black Jewfish is extremely dependent on tides and weather, so leading into Christmas could be a hit or miss in the shops if you do get the chance to secure some fillets prices likely to range from $32 to 35 per kg.

WESTERN AUSTRALIAN FISHING INDUSTRY COUNCIL (WAFIC)

Please attribute all comments to CEO Darryl Hockey

  • With rising prices of prized table fish, this is a great opportunity to try some amazing cheaper varieties such as fresh local mullet, gummy shark or leatherjackets.

QUEENSLAND SEAFOOD MARKETERS ASSOCIATION (QSMA)

Please attribute all comments to CEO Marshall Betzel. 

  • There’s lots of people looking for seafood to place front and centre on the Christmas table this year, so consumers will need to make sure they get their orders into their fishmongers nice and early.
  • We’re lucky here in Queensland that restrictions are starting to lift, and 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.

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