Marketing of eels
The largest market for farmed eels is the Japanese kabayaki market. The Japanese consume more than 110,000t of eels each year but domestic production is only about 30,000t. The kabayaki markets prefer eels weighing 200g. Australian shortfin and longfin eels can be grown to this size in 12–18 months.
All farmed eels are currently exported and markets as live product; however, as Australia's multicultural population increases, opportunities may emerge for a small domestic market.
The shortfin eel (Anguilla australis) closely resembles the Japanese eel (A. japonica) in both appearance and taste. The Japanese prefer eels that are uniform in colour, so the potential for acceptance of A. australis into the Japanese market is high.
The longfin eel (A. reinhardtii) has a mottled appearance that detracts from its market appeal in Japan. This may be overcome as the kabayaki cooking process effectively disguises the mottled look and the taste is similar to the Japanese eel.
Longfin eels are readily accepted throughout other parts of Asia and Europe, particularly in larger size grades. Despite the high prices paid for kabayaki eels, marketing of large eels up to 5kg each into alternative markets may be equally, if not more, profitable.
- Find out how to get started in aquaculture.
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