Australia’s Oyster Coast Ltd holds first Annual General Meeting of Shareholders in Narooma

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Chairman David Trebeck delivering his address at the 2015-16 AGMAustralia’s Oyster Coast Ltd held its first annual general meeting of shareholders in Narooma today.

Oyster grower and non-grower shareholders turned out in good numbers to hear the Chairman’s address and to elect a Chairman and Board.

Chairman, David Trebeck, having recently attended an international air freight seminar at Canberra Airport, shared some insights from Federal Trade Minister, Andrew Robb. Minister Robb discussed the importance of connectivity, praising the Canberra International Airport agreement with Singapore Airlines and noting that where air flights led, trade followed. Minister Robb had also reported the ‘spectacular’ reputation enjoyed by Australian agricultural products in Asia and highlighted recent OECD forecasts that the present 600 million middle class population residing between India and China is expected to grow to 3 billion over the next 35 years, which will result in unprecedented food demand implications.

Mr Trebeck told shareholders that the facts and figures quoted graphically underscore the relevance of the Australia’s Oyster Coast business model, which should give all shareholders confidence that the company is on the right track.

Mr Trebeck reported that many lessons had been learnt in the past year – most of them positive.

Export sales volumes had been slower to build up than anticipated as markets the company is targeting, while enormous by Australian standards, are mature, sophisticated and competitive. Mr Trebeck advised that adjustments had been made to the business model and price position, that the company better understands the markets where ‘our oysters fit best’ and had developed some good distributors and customers. He expected the company’s export sales would ramp up significantly in the near term but conceded it was difficult to say exactly when this would occur and by how much.

Mr Trebeck shared an interesting insight regarding the importance overseas customers place on the brand’s visibility and recognition in its home market. He advised shareholders that the company needed to be selling oysters and promoting its brand in the domestic market and that the relevance and importance of the Oyster Trail tourism initiative ‘could not be over emphasised’. He added that the Board had recently signed off on a domestic strategy that would be progressively implemented to capture domestic sales opportunities that didn’t compete with the company’s individual shareholders.

The company’s financial results were tabled covering two months of operation to the end of the 2014-15 financial year and revealed a $76,000 loss which was consistent with earlier projections and reflected the reality of establishing a new venture. Mr Trebeck advised that the priority now is to increase revenue and confirmed that the Board’s earlier indication of of getting to a cash break even by the end of the 2015-16 financial year remains a key objective.

All Board members stood for re-election, with the exception of Stacey Loftus, who is expecting her third child imminently. All were re-elected and Clyde River farmer, Steve Feletti, was also elected to the Board. The Chairman thanked Mrs Loftus for her significant contribution.

Read the full transcript of the Chairman’s address here.

Oysters centre stage at Canberra Region International Freight Symposium

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Oysters were on everyone’s mind last week when Australia’s Oyster Coast Director and Narooma Oyster farmer, David Maidment, shared the stage with Federal Trade Minister Andrew Robb and ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr at the Canberra Region International Freight Symposium on 12 February 2016.

The forum was designed to bring together small to large operators and government to discuss the Canberra Region’s readiness to embrace international trade and the subsequent opportunities for economic development. The forum was well attended by producers, manufacturers, potential exporters, decision makers, government officials, freight industry representatives and companies interested in exporting quality, innovative products and services from Canberra to Asia via air.

David Maidment talked about the opportunities in Asia for smaller regional producer/export operators like Australia’s Oyster Coast and shared some of the company’s experiences and challenges to date. See David Maidment’s presentation here

Federal Trade Minister Andrew Robb

Australia’s Oyster Coast Ltd’s share offer attracts global interest

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Chinese businessman, Mr Weibing Lu; Narooma oyster farmer, David Maidment; and David Trebeck tour oyster leases on Wagonga Inlet

Chinese businessman, Mr Weibing Lu; Narooma oyster farmer, David Maidment; and David Trebeck tour oyster leases on Wagonga Inlet

Investors from China, Europe and around Australia have jumped on-board the opportunity to purchase shares in Australia’s Oyster Coast.

The South Coast based company publicly announced the issue of 500,000 shares only a few weeks ago, when it launched its Prospectus on 12 January.

Company chairman David Trebeck said Australia’s Oyster Coast Ltd was well on the way to meeting its target of raising $500,000 under the offer. “This shows that there are plenty of investors who share our confidence in the market appetite for our premium oysters. “They see the potential for expansion and future profits, especially given the growing consumer demand for high-quality, environmentally-certified produce in China, Hong Kong and Singapore.” “That’s good news for the future of the company, and for the more than forty local oyster growing businesses who are our suppliers.”

Only last weekend, Australia’s Oyster Coast hosted an important business visitor from China who will be sourcing significant quantities to meet the demand from exclusive customers in Guangzhou.

But according to David Trebeck, exports into Asia are only one part of the story. The company is also pushing ahead to promote the brand domestically and boost sales in the Australian market. “This will support our ability to pay premium farm gate prices to our grower shareholders”, said Mr Trebeck.

Meanwhile, Australia’s Oyster Coast Trail is helping put the South Coast on the gourmet traveller’s map. Oyster-driven tourism is already delivering visitors to the region, bringing broader benefits for local businesses.

Chinese businessman, Mr Weibing Lu inspects some plump Angasi oysters on David Maidment’s Wagonga Inlet oyster lease

David Trebeck says “There’s still an opportunity for South Coast businesses or individuals with an interest in the region’s tourism and economic development to invest in Australia’s Oyster Coast Ltd.” But that window is only open until the end of February, when the share offer closes.

Through its capital-raising drive, Australia’s Oyster Coast will be able to pursue its market potential and strengthen the oyster industry that sustains the livelihood of oyster growers across the South Coast region.

The Australia’s Oyster Coast prospectus can be downloaded here.

Australia’s Oyster Coast wows Singapore at Australia Day celebrations

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Australia’s Oyster Coast, in collaboration with Oysters Unplugged, were invited to attend a major Australia Day related function at the Singapore High Commission on 28 January 2016.

The function, which was attended by around 600 business and community leaders, provided the High Commission with the opportunity to showcase Australia’s sensational food and beverage offering.

Clyde River farmer and director of Australia’s Oyster Coast, Ben Ralston, said the premium oysters of Australia’s Oyster Coast were a hit and were all devoured on the night. “There was a lot of positive feedback, particularly from people who had never tried a Sydney Rock oyster freshly shucked”, he said. The function also provided the company an excellent opportunity to network with key influencers and potential customers. All in all a great success!


Australia’s Oyster Coast Prospectus Launched

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The Chairman of Australia’s Oyster Coast Ltd, David Trebeck, has announced the release of the Company’s Prospectus.

Australia’s Oyster Coast Ltd was established to market quality oysters under a rigorous environmental management regime. The South Coast based company, which now has more than forty oyster growing businesses as suppliers, is hoping to further its objectives by raising up to $500,000 under the offer, with the issue of 500,000 shares at $1.00 per share.

Apart from aiming to produce a return on investment for shareholders, if successful, the Company’s activities will deliver broader benefits for the region, according to Chairman, David Trebeck.

“The Company is pursuing profitable outlets for oysters sourced from Australia’s Oyster Coast, in both export and domestic markets. This enables premium farm gate prices to be paid to grower shareholders. We continue to develop an oyster tourism trail to underpin the brand and to enhance visitor experiences within the Australia’s Oyster Coast region. And a priority is to further strengthen the environmental credentials of the oyster industry that sustains the livelihood of oyster growers across our region”, said Mr Trebeck.

According to the offer prospectus – lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission on 15 December 2015 – the funds raised are intended to meet establishment costs, provide working capital, finance capital equipment needed for the Company to carry out its proposed activities, and give a prudent liquidity buffer until the Company’s start-up phase is completed and profits are generated.

“It’s a major milestone for the Company and for the oyster growers of the region in particular”, said Narooma oyster farmer, David Maidment. “Throughout 2015, the Company has made significant progress – markets have been researched, customers identified, supply chains established, export sales made, the Oyster Trail further developed, and additional estuaries granted export approval by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service”, said Mr Maidment. “Export is one of the best things we can do to grow our industry and secure it future. Oyster driven tourism is beginning to deliver visitors to the region, which is something I would never have imagined five or ten years ago. Australia’s Oyster Coast Ltd is providing us with our best opportunity to date and it’s exciting to be a part of it”, he said.

David Trebeck, who has been a non-executive director of ASX-listed companies since 1997, believes a commercial structure, involving oyster grower shareholders and non-grower shareholders alike, backed by a diverse and experienced Board, provides the vehicle to capture the Asian potential.

“The thriving economies in the Asian region, the rising income levels of their populations and their focus on luxury products are reasonably well known. Their fascination with the ‘story behind the product’ – the region, the environment and the people – is in step with global consumer trends. The Board believes that the Company is well placed to capitalise on these opportunities. Market testing by the Company in China, Hong Kong and Singapore demonstrates interest in Australia’s Oyster Coast Ltd and its products”, said Mr Trebeck.

The Company intends to target a range of potential investors including oyster growers and supply chain partners. However, David Trebeck urged those businesses or individuals with an interest in the region’s tourism and/or economic development to download a copy of the prospectus.

‘My fellow Board members and I are excited by the potential which Australia’s Oyster Coast Ltd has to pursue its objectives and should you choose to invest, we look forward to welcoming you as a shareholder”, said Mr Trebeck.

Download the Australia’s Oyster Coast Ltd Prospectus here

If you have any questions about this Prospectus or how to apply for Shares, you should seek advice from your stockbroker, solicitor, accountant, financial advisor or other independent professional advisor. Instructions on how to apply for Shares are set out in Section 8 of this Prospectus. Alternatively, please contact Ms Alex McLeod, c/- Anthony Curtis and Co on (02) 6288 1788 from 9.00 am until 5.00 pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time) Monday to Friday (business days only).

Australia's Oyster Coast Chairman, David Trebeck, at Wagonga Inlet

Australia’s Oyster Coast Chairman, David Trebeck, at Wagonga Inlet

Seafood summer along Australia’s Oyster Coast

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Shuck your own oysters, fish in the beautiful bays, or just relax and eat well.

With its golden sand beaches lapped by sapphire blue ocean, the South Coast is becoming a dining destination. Come here to find some of the best oysters in Australia. Home to the Sydney Rock Oyster, this part of the world has been dubbed Australia’s Oyster Coast.

Read more of Richard Cornish’s article in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food feature of 15 December 2015


Dairy and oyster farmers work together

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The relationship between dairy farmers and oysters farmers can be a heated one at times. Fertiliser and effluent runoff from dairy farms into estuaries forces oyster farmers to cease their harvest.

Grants have been obtained to fence off paddocks near rivers, as well as to better manage fertiliser distribution in order to protect unintended runoff.

Around 50 farmers gathered at a field day in Nowra to demonstrate the current best practice between the industries, looking at issues including water quality, fertiliser management, and effluent solutions.

For oyster farmer Jessica Zealand it was also a chance to make the personal connections which are often the first barriers to better environmental management. “Today we’re really trying to build relationships between the people who manage our land who impact us the most,” Ms Zealand said.”To help give them a better understanding of what we do, what they do and how we can support each other to become stronger industries.”

Shared common ground

Despite the differences, there is some common ground between the sectors. “We’ve all got it tough but no, we are kindred spirits, we are all farmers,” she laughed.

“But at the end of the day we are at the mercy of environment, so how we manage our environment can very much be the difference between our productivity and profitability.

“I think it’s been a very challenging relationship in the past.

“I remember as a child and going up the back of the creek where there was a dairy farm where they would muck out straight into the water.

“And today we’re talking about effluent re-use which, when you compare with 25 to 30 years ago, [is] a huge improvement.”

Good quality water not just for oyster farmers

However, there is still room to improve the relationship between the sectors.

“It can only get better; we’re all more aware of the struggles and the issues that we’ve got so hopefully we can help our industries get better,” Ms Zealand said.

“People need to understand that good water quality isn’t just for oyster farmers.

“At the end of the day, oyster farmers are at the mercy of every other user, so reaching all those people is a very difficult task.

“The only thing we can do is keep doing what we’re doing, promoting better conservation, water conservation, natural resource management, not just for us but for the wider community.”

Dairy farmer and chair of the Dairy Industry Group, Tracy Russell, said making personal connections was key to both industries moving forward.

“Today is about coming out to actually see how things are in their industry,” Ms Russell said.

“They can have a look at our industry in an information sharing day.

“It’s just to make relationships, so that we don’t have any assumptions.

“It means we can all pick up the phone and have a chat; our business is no more important than their business so we just want to work together.”

Full story online at ABC Rural News

Andrew Wales to depart Australia’s Oyster Coast

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Australia’s Oyster Coast Chairman, David Trebeck, has announced with regret that Andrew Wales would be leaving the company shortly.

“Andrew has advised us that now the company has been firmly established, with an increasing array of export customers, the time was appropriate for him to move to new challenges. His focus had always been on the vision of creating a viable export-oriented business for oysters, improving the industry’s environmental credentials, and creating a domestic tourism Oyster Trail.

“The enthusiasm evident up and down Australia’s Oyster Coast – among growers, among those involved in the Oyster Trail, and in ancillary businesses – is testament to his vision and drive.

“However, the time involved in constant negotiations with export customers, and the regular visits to them, have been taking its toll on Andrew and his family.

“He will assist with a smooth handover of activities to the company’s directors and staff.

Commenting on his decision, Andrew stated that he was proud of what had been achieved over the three years he had been involved, especially since the transformation from an Association to a fully commercial company earlier this year.

“Markets and customers have been identified in Singapore, Hong Kong and southern China. There is considerable further potential growth in these regions, as well as other parts of China and further afield, especially other Asian countries and the Middle East.

“Another achievement which has given me great pleasure has been to achieve export approval for Wagonga Inlet and, more recently, parts of the Shoalhaven. This means that all the company’s grower shareholders can now target export markets.

David Trebeck said that future arrangements, and the appointment of a successor for Andrew, would be announced in due course. In the meantime, the company’s directors will assume responsibility for day-to-day activities.

Shoalhaven oyster farmers get export approval

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Oyster farmers at Shoalhaven’s Comerong Bay have been granted approval to export their product to Asia, the Pacific Islands and the Middle East. The approval was granted by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service and the NSW Food Authority last week.

Gaining export approval was granted after local farmers were able to demonstrate strong environmental management credentials.  Shoalhaven oyster farmer and Quality Assurance Program co-ordinator, Anthony Munn, said this involved regular monitoring of Comerong Bay and annual audits by the NSW Food Authority. “Farmers work to an environmental management system where they identify all environmental risks and then systematically work to address them through on-the-ground action. This might include upgrading to more environmentally friendly infrastructure or raising awareness of catchment issues in local communities,” said Mr Munn.

And export approval has come just in time for those Shoalhaven farmers wanting to supply Australia’s Oyster Coast, which commenced its export program into southern China, Hong Kong and Singapore this year. Australia’s Oyster Coast is exporting three varieties of premium fresh oysters and has worked with farmers and government authorities to support Shoalhaven farmers’ export application.

About eight of Shoalhaven’s leading oyster farming businesses will benefit from the export approval. Leon and Angela Riepsamen from Goodnight Oysters said they became shareholders in Australia’s Oyster Coast specifically with export markets in mind. “Oysters are a prestige product in Asia and the French dominate that market. We think our oysters are world class and for the first time, we have a real opportunity to compete with the French and get a good return for our oysters,” Leon Riepsamen said. “Export is important if we want to grow our industry and secure its future”.

Australia’s Oyster Coast director, Cath Peachey, congratulated the Shoalhaven oyster farmers for their commitment to ensure they met the export benchmark. “Export approval of Comerong Bay is very important to Australia’s Oyster Coast,” said Mrs Peachey. “Comerong Bay produces both Sydney Rock and Pacific oysters and farmers have built a strong reputation for producing fat, creamy oysters of both species. We wasted no time and were delighted to send a small order sourced from Shoalhaven to Singapore just last Thursday”.

“Australia’s Oyster Coast’s brand is built on the fact that we harvest and ship our oysters direct from the estuaries – we can do this because our estuaries are so clean and well managed. Safety and quality are the number one things our export customers are looking for and oysters produced at Comerong Bay meet our high export standards. And we have a strong advantage as we are the freshest premium oyster supplier in Asia with oysters arriving at the customer’s door within 30 hours of leaving Australia’s Oyster Coast,” said Mrs Peachey.

Receiving export approval was a result of the hard work of local oyster farmers and support from all levels of government. “Farmers can only do so much to ensure our waterways remain pristine. We’re grateful for the support we have received over the years. In particular, to Anthony Zammit, the Shellfish Program Manager at the NSW Food Authority who was instrumental in Comerong Bay gaining export approval,” said Mr Munn.