The local Sydney Rock Oyster (SRO) industry is about to enter a new era with the consolidation of nine farmers from across Wallis Lake and Port Stephens under the banner of East 33.
The undertaking, which includes 154ha of farms, an oyster nursery, licensed SRO export facility and Hamiltons Oyster Bar, will establish East 33 one of the country's largest producers of vertically integrated SROs.
East 33 executive chairman, James Garton said the partnership between growers and East 33 would ensure a local industry, which spanned many generations and more than 130 years, would continue to grow and prosper.
We believe there is significant growth potential in our farms and the industry more broadly, both domestically and overseas.- James Garton
At the same time, growers would see cost savings and an increase in margins enabling production to double in the next two years, he said.
"We are very excited to be creating a new opportunity for the SRO industry through our vertically integrated business model," Mr Garton said.
"We are pleased to have retained farmers and their employees and will continue to support and invest in our farmers, whose vision for the future is well aligned with ours.
"We believe there is significant growth potential in our farms and the industry more broadly, both domestically and overseas."
An export facility is in the planning stages, while future markets in both China and America have been trialled with promising results.
"This is great news for regional Australia and the NSW Mid North Coast," long time growers and co-heads of farming operations, Stephen Verdich and Anthony Sciacca said.
"It will underpin significant economic activity in the area and create a major industry for domestic and hopefully international export."
East 33 has been negotiating and planning with growers for the past four years.
Australia's only native oyster and indigenous to the East Coast between Queensland and Victoria, the SRO is grown by 255 farmers at 22 locations along the coast.
Also making news:
Twenty six of those growers produce more than 26,000 dozen oysters annually, Mr Garton said.
SRO is a rare native to the East Coast; we should enjoy the different taste profile to the bold flavour and taste of the faster growing, larger Pacific oyster, he said.
Stay ahead with local news by signing up for the Great Lakes Advocate newsletter here.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.