Australis Aquaculture, LLC is a leading producer and marketer of ocean-farmed barramundi, headquartered in Greenfield, Massachusetts. The company was founded in 2004 in Turners Falls, Massachusetts, where it first began producing barramundi using recirculating aquaculture system technology in Western Massachusetts. Today, Australis is solely focused on offshore aquaculture and owns and operates its own barramundi farm in Vietnam. Australis is widely considered responsible for popularizing barramundi to North America.
Australis CEO Josh Goldman first began experimenting with closed-containment aquaculture in the 1980s, when he was a student at Hampshire College. After graduating, he founded one of the first commercial aquaponics farms, and went on to spend the next fifteen years in commercialize closed containment-farming technology as an entrepreneur and consultant. In the early 2000s, Goldman spent three years prospecting for new types of fish to farm and was introduced to barramundi by an Australian entrepreneur.
In 2004 Australis Aquaculture established its first barramundi farm in Turner Falls, Massachusetts.
In 2009, Australis Aquaculture was named a Seafood Champion from the Seafood Choices Alliance.
In 2013, Australis Aquaculture receives Global G.A.P. Certification for Sustainable Farming in Vietnam.
In 2014, Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch awarded Australis Aquaculture’s Vietnam farm the Best Choice ranking. This is the first time a marine-farmed finfish has ever achieved this rating.
In 2018, Australis Aquaculture receives 4-Star Best Aquaculture Practices Certification by Global Aquaculture Alliance. The company also sells its Turners Falls farm to Great Falls Aquaculture in effort to focus all attention to ocean-based barramundi production.
Goldman tested over 30 species of fish in order to determine which was optimal for aquaculture. He chose barramundi because of its low environmental impact and ability to breed in captivity, in addition to what he believed to be an appealing taste and exceptional nutritional value.
Part of the barramundi’s sustainability comes from the fact that it can be raised on a predominantly plant-based protein diet without sacrificing the nutritional benefits of the product. According to The Atlantic, “they have the rare ability to transform vegetarian feed into sought-after omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon require as much as three pounds of fish-based feed to put on a pound of meat. Goldman’s barramundi need only a half pound, the bulk of which is made from scraps from a herring processing plant.”
Operations & Technology
Australis once used Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) technology in their land-locked Turner Falls facility to raise barramundi. Australis’ Vietnam operation uses a combination of on-shore closed containment tanks with off-shore cages in the open ocean.
Marketing & Distribution Strategy
Although Australis was able to raise barramundi successfully, one of the largest challenges the company faced was popularizing a relatively unknown fish in the American market. Goldman said: “We were reaching out and building relationship with top chefs who were passionate about sustainability, dietitians who were trying to get people to eat more fish (but often worried about contaminants), and environmentalists whose mission was to protect the oceans.”
Australis harvests and processes their fish, selling under its own brand, as well as private labels. The company’s Vietnam facility produces primary flash frozen fillets which are sold to foodservice distributors and prominent retailers. Examples of such operators include well-known restaurant French Laundry, which first carried Australis barramundi in 2008.
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