2008/794.10 Retail transformation: Identifying opportunities for creating consumer-focussed Australian salmon value-added products
View Image

2008/794.10 Retail transformation: Identifying opportunities for creating consumer-focussed Australian salmon value-added products

By Ken Dods


Australian Salmon represents one of the last sustainable, relatively untapped wild catch fisheries in Australia with capture and harvest techniques not having changed significantly for many decades. Fish quality is quite variable and harvest practices are not optimised. As a result, consumer confidence in Australian Salmon product has been adversely affected. Harvest practice and immediate post-catch handling can be significantly improved, and are major determinants of product quality. Current and existing research lacks fundamental, basic information on consumer perceptions and acceptance of the Australian Salmon. This project aimed to fill a critical knowledge gap in existing and concurrent research projects.

The physical, compositional and biochemical attributes of Australian Salmon were examined through the supply chain. A quality index of physical attributes was compiled that enables optimum shelf life to be estimated. A preliminary study of the chemistry of the supply was examined at harvest, in transport and after processing and storage. The project also trialed a vacuum packaged fresh frozen product that extends the shelf life and provides a mechanism to allow the seasonality of the fish to be managed over a longer period. The additional advantage of the vacuum packaged product will be more extensive distribution networks may be possible than a fresh product would permit. Options for the whole use of the fish were identified, providing additional value through total product utilisation and minimisation of waste.

This project determined that public's perception of Australian Salmon's attributes is significantly different to that identified when it is optimally processed and presented in a blind study with other fish species that are in direct competition within the marketplace. The taste characteristics and public perceptions of Australian Salmon were identified, industry perceptions were sampled and suggested future directions documented. Consumer preference studies showed the Australian public is still confused by the name, mistaking it for Atlantic Salmon farmed in Australia. It is important to note that the two fish species have vastly different flavour, texture and cooking characteristics. However consumer sensory evaluation clearly showed that when optimally processed and appropriately prepared, the flesh of the fish was consistently more preferred than Mullet and Whiting for all sensory parameters and overall acceptance.

The study increased the understanding by consumers, regulators and seafood industry staff on the positive nutritional benefits of seafood consumption. It also indicated how Australian Salmon might find acceptance in new and established domestic and international markets, and developed a consumer model for the evaluation of product acceptability and perception.