Undercurrent News
April 19, 2016, 4:30 pm

New Zealand seafood firm Future Cuisine has become the first to own a registered company, and factory, in China, it claims.

In April 2016 the processor and distributor began operations at its new facility in Shanghai, where it will stock and sell live greenshell mussels, crayfish, oysters and a species of clam known as “Tua Tua”.

The business will also be distributing smoked and frozen New Zealand seafood, and will be the exclusive Chinese distributor for Mt Cook Alpine Salmon, the firm told Undercurrent News.

“This is the first time live greenshell mussels will be available in China,” it said, adding that over time it intends to begin selling fresh Australian seafood through the facility as well.

The business will have management, sales and operations staff of 15 all based in China. The purpose-built, 800 meter square facility will contain live tanks for the species it distributes, and at full capacity it will be able to handle 15 metric tons of the live products per day.

“Future Cuisine Shanghai has pioneered the way for a fully integrated, New Zealand owned and managed distribution and production facility within China,” said Future Cuisine owner and managing director, Joe Kouwenhoven.

“We can provide a platform and route to market for other New Zealand and Australian seafood producers looking to take advantage of the growing Chinese seafood market, while mitigating risk and complexity to their business.”

“Our competitive advantage will not only be our physical facilities and established supply chain, but more importantly our understanding of the Chinese market place, through our unique blend of New Zealand and Chinese management and staff.”

The operation is being led by Kouwenhoven and business partner Richard Daniel, who has been based in China for the past eight years.

Future Cuisine – which manages nearly 6,000t of mussels a year through its Auckland-based business – has supplied the domestic market with value-added goods since 2000, and international markets since 2004.

NZ sales to China on the up

New Zealand seafood exports reached a record high of NZD 1.63 billion ($1.08bn) in 2015, up over 6% on 2014; despite economic uncertainty in China, exports there grew by 14.9%.

The growth was most pronounced in the final two months of the year, according to Seafood New Zealand chief executive Tim Pankhurst.

Up to the end of October export growth was tracking at about 3%, but increased demand in November and December pushed the growth to over 20% for those two months and lifted total growth for the year to 6.6%.

“A significant part of this growth was from Greenshell mussel exports, as new season supplies became available. 300 metric tons of mussels were shipped to Korea in December, compared with 97t in the same period in 2014. Total exports to Korea grew by 11.6% last year,” he said.

Undercurrent has also reported that fresh New Zealand seafood is being shipped directly to consumers in mainland China, using Alibaba Group Holdings’ third-party sales platform, Tmall.com.