A sea of export opportunities for Petuna’s premium ocean trout

20 December 2021

Known as the wagyu of the sea, ocean trout is prized for its rich flavour, creamy texture and striking marbling. Tasmania’s Petuna produces some of the world’s finest ocean trout – and it’s now working with Austrade to take its premium seafood to the world’s top restaurants and retailers.

Austrade played an important role in bridging Petuna and Culina, one of the leading premium food and wine distributors in Singapore. It also introduced Petuna to Italy’s Longino and Cardenal, one of the world’s most prestigious food distributors. Petuna ocean trout is now appearing in Italy’s Michelin-starred restaurants.

‘We don’t have staff in-market, so Austrade’s connections and introductions are vital,’ says Luke Freeman, Petuna’s National Account Manager. ‘They understand the needs of different regions, who’s who in the industry and how they operate. That information helps with export planning.’

Petuna also used the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) to continue sending seafood to existing export markets when international borders closed. ‘IFAM didn’t bring costs down to pre-COVID-19 levels but it certainly helped,’ says Freeman.

From Australia to the world

Petuna, named after founders Peter and Una Rockliff, is one of Australia’s leading seafood businesses. The company grows and processes Atlantic salmon and ocean trout in the pristine waters of Macquarie Harbour and the Tamar River. Petuna processes the fish in Devonport and sends it to mainland Australia. From there it is distributed around the country and overseas.

Australian chefs who moved overseas to work introduced the world to Petuna seafood. Today, the company supplies the world’s premium food markets, including Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, North America and Singapore. Australian chef Tetsuya Wakuda is a long-time friend of the Rockcliffs. Petuna ocean trout is a signature ingredient at his award-winning restaurants in Sydney and Singapore.

Like other Australian businesses, Petuna has had a challenging 18 months. Its exports took a hit from the closure of international borders. COVID-19 lockdowns in mid-2021 also affected business in NSW and Victoria, its biggest domestic markets.

Petuna turned to Austrade to find markets for its premium seafood. Austrade’s TradeStart has escorted overseas buyers to visit Petuna’s factory for many years.

‘Recent challenges made us realise why we need to diversify our markets,’ says Freeman.

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Austrade works with local importer to expand in-market distribution

Petuna has been exporting ocean trout to Singapore for 15 years. The company entered the market after striking up a relationship with Culina, a premium food and wine importer. Culina stocks Petuna products in its retail outlets and restaurant. It also supplies the country’s best restaurants, including Wakuda’s Michelin-starred Waku Ghin.

Interest in ocean trout is growing in Singapore. Austrade works with Culina on in-market distribution opportunities that is matched to Petuna’s production capabilities.

‘Thanks to Austrade, Petuna and Culina can now develop and drive new sales in the Singapore market,’ says Freeman.

Culina says one of Petuna’s main attractions is its ethically and sustainably produced seafood.

‘If you visit Macquarie Harbour in Tasmania, you will be drawn by Petuna’s focus and respect for the longevity of the natural environment,’ says Aldo Molinaro, Culina’s Senior Director, Global Sourcing & Product Training. ‘It’s no wonder top chefs fall in love with their award-winning produce. We are proud to represent the brand and bring it to Singapore for discerning palates.’

Making an impression in Italy with Austrade’s help

In 2019, Italian importer Longino and Cardenal asked Austrade about opportunities to import ocean trout. Austrade put the importer in touch with Petuna. Company representatives soon arrived in Tasmania to see how Petuna’s fish is grown and processed. Petuna became one of the company’s 7 new global suppliers in 2020.

Longino and Cardenal’s interest in Petuna’s ocean trout was a pleasant surprise. The company is one of the world’s most prestigious food distributors. It sources premium-quality products in small batches for global customers, including most of Italy’s Michelin-starred restaurants.

‘Longino and Cardenal only markets the best, highest quality and unique provenance products,’ says Ruben Alvarez, Petuna’s Chief Executive. ‘To be included in this rare club is an honour and a testament of the high quality to which we aspire.’

The 7 new global suppliers were announced at a gala event in Milan. Tasmanian chef Matt Breen prepared a dish for 220 people using Tasmanian ingredients. These included sugar-cured Petuna ocean trout, wasabi crème fraiche, chilli ginger oil and fresh fennel salad.

‘We are the first Tasmanian product to be sourced by Longino and Cardenal,’ says Alvarez. ‘Hopefully this now opens the door for other premium Tasmanian products to be shared with the rest of the world.’

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