Tassal reels in export success thanks to trade agreement with India

Premium Tasmanian salmon is now available in India, after Tassal took advantage of tariff cuts under the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI-ECTA) to enter the market for the first time.

Tassal, Australia’s largest salmon producer, worked with Austrade on the opportunity. To date, Tassal has exported around 30 tonnes of salmon to India. Its goal is to increase that amount to 100 tonnes over the next 12 months.

‘We have always been interested in India, but the previous 30% import tariff was too high,’ says Matt Vince, Tassal’s Head of Sales and Marketing. ‘Under AI-ECTA, the 30% tariff reduced to 21% currently and will fall to 17% on 1 January 2024. That will help accelerate our opportunity in India.’

Meeting the demand for sustainable seafood

Tassal is Australia’s largest vertically integrated seafood producer. The company Atlantic salmon in southern Tasmania across 5 marine farming zones and 4 land-based freshwater hatcheries. It also farms tiger prawns in northern Queensland. In 2023, Tassal acquired Australia’s only ocean-based barramundi farm at Cone Bay in Western Australia.

Exports make up 25% of Tassal's business. Its salmon, prawns, and fresh, smoked and frozen seafood is available across Southeast Asia (its largest market), China, Japan, Korea and the US. In 2022, Tassal was an Australian Export Awards finalist in the Agribusiness, Food and Beverages category.

‘Low or no import tariffs is an incentive to export,’ says Vince. ‘It’s why we’ve focused on markets where Australia has a free trade agreement. Many of those markets are in Asia. Our proximity to the region also means we can get to market faster than our Northern Hemisphere competitors.’

Tassal was keen to diversify its export markets. India, with its large population and growing middle class, was top of its list. But high import tariffs deterred the company from entering the market.

Austrade paves market entry to India

When Tassal became aware that Australia and India were negotiating a trade agreement, it prepared for market entry. The company had access to global data on the Indian salmon market but did not know which seafood importers and distributors to approach.

‘Austrade has an excellent network of contacts,’ says Vince. ‘Advisers helped us identify the largest importers of fresh seafood in India. That would have been a very challenging exercise to do on our own. We signed an agreement with India’s leading importer of fresh salmon.

‘We have a good relationship with Austrade – they are our first port of call and sounding board. We have key contacts we speak to regularly. When we have questions about new markets and developments, Austrade comes back with great answers. We like their proactivity. When we discuss our focus areas, Austrade advisers always have thoughts on how they can help.’

Tariff cut under AI-ECTA boosts exports

The 30% tariff that used to apply to fresh salmon fell to 26% when AI-ECTA entered into force on 29 December 2022. Three days later, on 1 January 2023, the tariff fell to 21%. It will fall progressively until it is eliminated on 1 January 2028.

Thanks to its preparation, Tassal was ready to export when the trade agreement came into effect. The company flew its first shipment of salmon to India in April 2023. To date, Tassal has exported around 30 tonnes of salmon to India.

‘It’s a small volume but it’s a start,’ says Vince. ‘Once consumers know imported salmon is available, we believe the market for salmon in India will grow rapidly over the next 5 years.

‘If we could sell 100 tonnes of salmon over the next 12 months, that would be a very good outcome. It would be a quarter of the volume that India currently imports.’

Tassal is also exploring opportunities to diversify its exports, not just to India, but worldwide.

‘Our plan is to build scale across our business, supporting and growing jobs particularly in regional Australia,’ says Vince. ‘Then we can look at expanding our exports of tiger prawns from Queensland. We also recently acquired a barramundi farm in Western Australia, so barramundi exports are also a possibility.’

Trade and investment opportunities with India

The Australia-India Business Exchange (AIBX) helps boost trade and investment between India and Australia.