Growing Futures

Increasing value of King Salmon

Increasing value of King Salmon

Reducing stress for farmed salmon maintains quality of fish for export markets

Aquaculture is the fastest growing primary industry in the world. Delivering fish of high quality is paramount, and fish that meet increasing consumer and legislative demands around animal welfare command a premium on the global marketplace.

New Zealand produces around 14,000 tonnes of farmed salmon each year; around a third is exported, with a value of $51 million. Whilst the majority of salmon farmed globally is Atlantic Salmon, New Zealand is one of only a few countries to culture King, or Chinook, Salmon. King Salmon has a unique flavour and has the highest natural oil content of all salmon, including high concentrations of healthy omega-3 oils. This makes it much valued by the international market.

Low stress harvesting

Harvesting fish can induce a stress response that exhausts the animal and can damage the quality of the fish. King Salmon in particular are easily stressed and can be damaged during harvest, reducing the value when sold as whole fish on the global marketplace. AQUI-S® is a food-grade anaesthetic to anaesthetise fish at harvest. This reduces the stress response and minimises damage to the animal, therefore preserving fish quality and appearance as well as extending shelf life.

AQUI-S® is now used by 95% of the New Zealand salmon industry and has supported the industry in gaining preferred supplier status in many overseas markets. The premium price demanded by New Zealand salmon through use of AQUI-S® has been estimated to return $1.7 million each year in additional value.

Exporting the AQUI-S® technology

In 2011, the intellectual property associated with the AQUI-S® technology was wholly transferred to the co-development partner AQUI-S New Zealand Limited, and a global distribution network for the product is in place. AQUI-S® is the only fish anaesthetic approved for use in Australia, China, New Zealand, Korea, Costa Rica and Honduras, and is also approved for use in Viet Nam, the third largest aquaculture producer in the world. In 2013, AQUI-S® was approved for use in its first European market, Norway, which produces 1.3 million tonnes of aquaculture products per year, predominantly salmon and trout.

Development of AQUI-S® was funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Plant & Food Research, FTS and AQUI-S New Zealand Limited, with in-market support from commercial partners.

Created: September 2013

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