LONG time oyster growers wince when the trendy city chefs and foodies rattle on about ‘oyster shucking’.
You see, they’ve always just opened them and so have their counterparts in New Zealand.
The ‘shucking’ thing is an American term that those outside the farming game have introduced.
Whatever the case, a lot of oysters are being opened and eaten and the demand is very strong, even more so since the Covid-19 scare.
Local farmer Paul North puts it this way.
“With holiday makers grounded, people have decided to enjoy themselves and spend their money locally.
“Fine dining is very much part of this and our sales have actually increased during the lockdown,” he said.
Meanwhile, low interest loans to primary producers have seen the growers expanding the size of the lease area under cultivation, updating their equipment and infrastructure and looking forward to a bright future.
According to Paul there is new blood entering the game with leases changing hands for substantial sums.
“We have ‘cleanskins’, those who have never farmed oysters before, buying in and wanting to have a go,” he added.
“As well as this, large corporate investors are showing interest as there will be no more new leases granted.
“They see the demand increasing and this will ensure high prices and good financial returns,” he stated.
“Just like farming the land, oyster growing is subject to the whims of nature,” he said.
“Last year, the drought saw little runoff and food available for the oysters.
“With the ‘La Nina’ now taking over, we have good rains and growth rates are very good, “ he concluded.
By Geoff WALKER