Little Tuna's Big DreamsFish-X participant Kate Lamason and husband Rowan are taking on the big players in the canned tuna market with all-Australian Albacore Tuna products.
Canned tuna is one of Australia's most popular seafood products.
After the decline of local processing, all of it has been imported in recent years.
This is despite availability of sustainably sourced Australian tuna, in particular Albacore Tuna (Thunnus alalunga).
Stepping into this gap are fisheries insiders, the husband-and-wife team of Kate and Rowan Lamason.
This year they established their Cairns-based company Little Tuna using Albacore Tuna, which Rowan describes as an under-valued and under-used species with a delicate, firm flesh that retains a pleasant white colour once cooked.
“A huge part of the product we are marketing revolves around issues of quality, sustainability and Australian-sourced fish. We saw a gap in the market, given the lack of Australian canned tuna. It provides the fishery with an opportunity to value add.”
She attended a Fish-X hackathon in Sydney, and says the event provided some great benefits, both personally and for the business. She received training, advice, feedback, networking contacts and even opportunities to refine her pitching skills to stockists.
Kate credits the program with increasing her confidence and helping to formulate a nuanced, forward-looking business plan to grow the company and reach consumers across Australia.
“The hackathon provided vital confirmation about the quality of our products.”
And realising there were no competitors in their market niche – sustainable, premium, Australian sourced tuna – they’ve gained the confidence to move forward and to make use of contacts to grow the company. These new contacts also mean they no longer need to do all the product development work in isolation and by a costly process of trial and error, Kate says.
Expansion and automation
The game plan is to expand the company enough to raise the capital that will allow them to shift from their three $1000 cookers to the automated efficiencies of a $100,000 industrial cooker.
Without the automation, Little Tuna sales are limited by their manual cooking processes. “Automation at the cooking phase is where we can gain efficiencies without compromising the quality associated with the Little Tuna brand,” Kate says.
Working on an innovative idea? Fish X can help
Story by: Dr Gio Braidotti, Coretex
Photos: Little Tuna
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