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An Australian seafood processor has turned to cans to rapidly expand its operation and avoid the complexities involved with live exports.

Southern United Seafood in the inner Melbourne suburb of Richmond is exporting as much as 90 per cent of its canned abalone - the world's most expensive seafood.

More than 70 per cent of the exported canned abalone will go to China, with the rest going to countries such as Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and the United States.

Southern United Seafood is using top-quality cans produced locally by Impress Australasia to ensure the quality and stability of its canned abalone, a seafood delicacy that sells in Australia for around $30 a can.

Local production capacity is 2500 cans per day, but is dependent on supply, which is in turn susceptible to weather and diving conditions in the abalone harvesting areas off Victoria and Tasmania.

Southern United Seafood director Wenson Lin, who founded the company in 1995, decided to move into canned seafood after establishing a successful overseas export market for live lobster, abalone and crab.

The company doubled the size of its premises and expects turnover to increase by 30 per cent within the next 24 months.

"Exporting live seafood is a very time-critical and very fragile business," said Mr Lin, "and it is always a challenge to maintain the quality of the live products.

"Once our market position was secure for live seafood in the overseas market, we decided to expand the business into canning.

"With the abalone, we're looking away from the traditional canned export market and going with a more value-added product such as our gift boxes, which we can sell direct to our customers through supermarkets, restaurants and hotels."

The gift boxes contain two cans of abalone and sell for $68, or $100 with a small bottle of Australian red or white wine.

"It was vital for us to have a high-quality can because of the value of the product. We cannot risk quality, so we had to find the best can in the market - and we found that with Impress," Mr Lin said.


Southern United Seafood is exporting premium canned Australian abalone gift packs to global markets.