Cooke’s Tassal buys struggling barramundi producer

The Tasmanian salmon farmer Tassal has bought a troubled Western Australia barramundi farmer, saving dozens of jobs in the process.

Tassal, now part of the global Cooke aquaculture and seafood group, said last night that it has taken over MPA Fish Farms Pty Ltd and MPA Marketing Pty Ltd, which operates Western Australia’s only ocean based barramundi farm.

The Cone Bay based company, previously part of the Singapore-based Barramundi Group, entered voluntary administration in May, threatening the jobs of its 50 strong workforce.

Tassal is Australia’s largest vertically integrated seafood growing, processing and marketing business, employing nearly 2,000 people. It said it was delighted to add barramundi to its growing list of products.

Tassal Managing Director and CEO Mark Ryan said he looked forward to adding Australian ocean-farmed barramundi to the business.

“Tassal has turned around both the salmon and prawn industries in Australia before and has the skills and capabilities to apply the same learnings and intellectual capital to do this for the MPA companies and the wider barramundi industry in Australia,” he said.

“We are excited to bring world-class engineering, technology, innovative equipment, and 36 years’ experience in aquaculture to operating this barramundi farm.”

Tassal will have a head-start by leveraging excellent existing relationships with retailers across Australia to reinforce the reputation of West Australian barramundi as a premium product. MPA currently produces around 1,600 tonnes of barramundi annually in Australia.

“Once operations are consolidated, we will look at growth opportunities. This is a huge win for Northern WA, and a win for local jobs and investment. At Tassal we work in regional areas across the country and are committed to working closely with traditional owners and the local community,” Ryan said.

Tassal said it believes in sustainably produced food, through responsibly harnessing the nation’s precious water resources and playing its part in ensuring a prosperous, healthy planet for future generations.

In a deal completed in November last year, Tassal is now part of Cooke Inc, one of the largest global aquaculture and seafood family of companies, producing salmon, sea bass, shrimp/prawns, and harvesting several wild fisheries species. The group includes Cooke Aquaculture Scotland.

Tassal-branded barramundi is due to hit the market in November, the start of the Australian summer.

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