Research inspires big dreams for barramundi

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Research inspires big dreams for barramundi


Published on 9 September 2014

An academic from USC has been recognised for her research into the Australian farmed barramundi industry.

Associate Professor of Marketing Meredith Lawley has been awarded the Most Innovative Research Award by the Australian Barramundi Farmers Association (ABFA).

Dr Lawley has spent the past five years investigating how best to promote Australian farmed barramundi and develop the market. During that time she has interviewed seafood industry experts, fishmongers, wholesalers, retailers, consumers and dozens of chefs.

She discovered that Barramundi is Australia’s favourite fish in restaurants, but many people don’t realise that more than half of the barramundi we consume is imported.

ABFA president Marty Philips admits that while he is good at farming barramundi he is terrible when it comes to marketing. He said he learned a lot from Dr Lawley’s findings.

“Something that surprised us is the amount of Australian pride in barramundi. People know it is an Aboriginal word and really think of it as an Aussie fish,” he said.

“The research has given us a lot of direction and focus and the momentum to go forward and develop the industry which is currently worth around $50 million at the farm gate.”

Dr Lawley said that initially many of the barramundi farmers she spoke to were primarily production focussed.

“They only wanted to work out how to get an extra $1 per kilo and how to grow bigger and better fish. They had little concern about their product after it left the farm,” she said.

“What my research showed them is they needed to understand what people like about barramundi and what consumers value. Quality control and marketing need to happen in parallel.”

The Australian farmed barramundi industry began in the mid-1980s. ABFA members now realise that to expand the market and increase sales a whole of industry marketing approach is needed rather than individual farmers going it alone.

Dr Lawley’s research project ‘Repositioning Australian Farmed Barramundi in the Domestic Market’ was funded by the Australian Seafood Cooperative Research Centre and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.

— Jane Cameron

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