Seaweed launches onto export market
SLIMY, stinky and about to become one of Bundaberg’s newest exports — an exotic seaweed is to be farmed in Burnett Heads to be exported to Taiwan, Japan and Honolulu.
The plant, known as “green caviar”, will be exported with what South Pacific Seaweeds owner Brian Russell said had a potential market of $3 to $5 million.
One tonne of the seaweed sells for about $90,000.
“We’re in partnership with James Cook University, who have been researching the best way to grow the plants,” Mr Russell said.
Under the $1.4 million deal, the university developed a way to enhance the growth and quality of the seaweed, or caulerpa lentillifera, as it is known by its scientific name.
On Friday, the first of the stock arrived in Burnett Heads to begin the trial period.
“We will be sending our first trials off this week and hopefully will be starting major exports at the end of April,” Mr Russell said.
The seaweed farm is one of two in Australia and the only farm in the nation to grow green caviar.
In Japan, Taiwan and on the east coast of America, the plant is considered a delicacy and often used in salads and side dishes because of its peppery taste.
The new farm will also create a number of jobs in the area.
“When I took over the company in May, we had three staff and now we have 10,” Mr Russell said.
“By the end of the year we will have 30.”
He said he had been employing people from the Bundaberg region and training them.
“The staff we are getting from the local area are excellent because they are really hard workers and willing to learn,” he said.
Bundaberg Chamber of Commerce president Ron Bishop said the new export company would boost the local economy.
“Any money from outside usually travels through five or six businesses before it leaves the community,” he said.
Mr Bishop said local businesses would also benefit because the company would have needs, such as water pumps, which would have to be met and sourced through regional suppliers.