The biotechnology and future food startup New Fish is gaining momentum after releasing its first product and netting backing for a research project on New Zealand’s Blackfoot Pāua.
The company, led by general manager Hamish Howard, is developing a range of ultra-premium seafood products for international export. This includes the promising NewFish Pāua Saucisson – a naturally fermented French-style salami – using Blackfoot Pāua with innovative fermentation techniques and ingredients such as free-farmed Kurobuta Pork, Akaroa Kelp and Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
NewFish distribution deal
In a new development, the foodtech company has now signed a premium foodservice distribution agreement with Auckland-based The Produce Company, wholesale suppliers to restaurants, cafes, bars, caterers and luxury yachts.
The Produce Company will operate as NewFish’s foodservice distributor to top restaurants in Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga cities, including Waiheke Island and bespoke regional orders. “The Produce Company’s reputation, values and customer service offering is a great fit for the aspirations of NewFish’s luxury foods portfolio,” NewFish marketing lead Eleni Hogg said. “We are also impressed by their export arm which services superyachts, luxury resorts and fine dining restaurants in markets such as Hong Kong, Vanuatu and Samoa.”
The product will continue to be available through NewFish’s direct-to-consumer channel, with NewFish dispatching orders directly from its Auckland-based fermentation room.
Making more of native pāua
NewFish recognises pāua as true taonga that is widely treasured in Aotearoa New Zealand. Despite this, the vast majority of New Zealand’s commercial pāua harvest is canned for export after being bleached to make the unique mollusc look like abalone species found elsewhere in the world. This has led to New Zealand’s Blackfoot Pāua being considered inferior and of lesser value. Also in the process, the skirt and hua (gonads and viscera) of the pāua, are under-valued and under-utilised.
NewFish take a whole fish philosophy, meaning they use all components of the kaimoana in their products. The company is on a mission to flip this paradigm and has partnered with a consortium to advance knowledge of the native New Zealand Blackfoot Pāua (Haliotis iris) and restore pāua’s status.
Abalone is highly regarded in many Asian cultures, for both its nutritional properties and its medicinal and health-promoting effects. In addition, all parts of the abalone are highly valued. For example, abalone shells are used in Chinese medicine and abalone viscera (organs) are used in Korea to make Geut-jeot, a form of the traditional fermented seafood dish called Jeotgal.
Aotearoa has a real opportunity to create highly nutritious and valuable seafood products that celebrate our culinary excellence and unique seafood species, such as New Zealand’s endemic Blackfoot Pāua. NewFish are currently developing a range of ultra-premium seafood products for international export, such as the world-first NewFish Pāua Saucisson—a naturally fermented French-style salami. These products embrace the “whole fish” or full-utilisation philosophy, by including all components of the kaimoana used in their creation.
— Hamish Howard, NewFish General Manager and Co-founder.
With globally renowned chef Vaughan Mabee at the helm of NewFish’s culinary development, the products are guaranteed to taste delicious. However, despite being a well-established, longstanding and (generally) highly profitable industry, our scientific understanding of the nutritional and health-promoting properties of Blackfoot Pāua is limited.
The NewFish-led consortium includes the Riddet Institute, food science consultant MacDonald & Associates, pāua company PāuaCo and $48,348 of funding with funding from the High Value Nutrition National Science Challenge for a research project on Blackfoot Pāua.
NewFish has embarked on this research to validate the known benefits of Blackfoot Pāua and will do so by identifying relevant bioactive and health-promoting compounds within the pāua meat, skirt and hua. This project will collate knowledge of Blackfoot Pāua from a variety of sources and consider fermented Blackfoot Pāua as an aid to digestive health. It is expected that this approach will create further opportunities for New Zealand’s Pāua Industry to add value to products developed in line with cultural and environmental best practices.
The research for this project will mostly take place at the Riddet Institute in Palmerston North, a world-leading research centre in food and related sciences. Grant MacDonald, a Nelson-based food scientist and seafood expert, will work on the project with internationally recognised leaders in nutrition, digestive health and the compositional analysis of novel foods, such as Professor Warren McNabb from the Riddet Institute.
The High-Value Nutrition Ko Ngā Kai Whai Painga National Science Challenge aims to grow science excellence and knowledge, enabling New Zealand to produce and deliver food and nutrition that promotes global health. This research aligns with the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge’s mission.
“This project will collate knowledge of Blackfoot Pāua from a variety of sources and consider fermented Blackfoot Pāua as an aid to digestive health,” NewFish said. “It is expected that this approach will create further opportunities for New Zealand’s Pāua Industry to add value to products developed in line with cultural and environmental best practices.”