Australia & New Zealand Business Report 2017

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Discovery Reports

GFC gives China a taste of Down Under with Brolos premium lobster

In the past five years, GFC’s business has tripled, and it will export around 4,000 tonnes of rock lobsters this year, 98 per cent of it to China

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 September, 2017, 5:15pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 September, 2017, 5:35pm

A luxurious lobster meal could not get any fresher than with Australia’s Brolos brand – even when one is ordering it from China. This year, Geraldton Fishermen’s Co-operative (GFC) has started to roll out a centrepiece corporate programme that allows it to deliver live lobsters into China in only eight hours, a process that previously took 36 hours.

“Every time somebody purchases a Brolos lobster, it is not only about having a meal, but more like getting a little piece of Australia,” says Wayne Hosking, CEO of the world’s largest processor and exporter of rock lobsters. “It is about our dream and our customers’ little slice of that aspiration that we live by every day.”

More than 60 years ago, a small group of Australian fishermen envisioned marketing their own quality lobsters worldwide. Fully-owned by the fishermen, GFC’s complete control over product quality from ocean to market has driven the company’s global success. In the past five years alone, GFC’s business has tripled. The company will export around 4,000 tonnes of rock lobsters this year, much to the pleasure of Chinese consumers because 98 per cent of this shipment will be going to China.

“We have been spending the last four years putting all the pieces together and have just taken that final step into the China market,” Hosking says. “We now have the entire fleet – all the infrastructure, supplier network, equipment, marketing and the whole value chain – to the point where we are able to trade directly with individual Chinese consumers door to door.”

Realising a diverse range of market entry levels, GFC will pursue a blended business development model that covers business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) markets.

For B2C, the company will focus on high-net-worth individuals in more than 20 tier-1 Chinese cities, before moving into tier-2 territories. Marketing only live lobsters, GFC has put up 1- and 2-tonne holding tanks within the Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou distribution warehouses of partner SF Cold Chain. A lobster shipment leaving the company’s storage facility near Perth Airport at 6am will arrive in GFC’s bonded warehouse in Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport around 2pm the same day.

“Our collaboration with SF Cold Chain gives us an exceptionally powerful position to cover that last mile in the market,” Hosking says. “One of the challenges in China is the need to have a reliable cold chain, and SF Cold Chain has the most advanced such facility capable of on-time delivery even to the most remote areas.”

Meanwhile, partner Jump Online handles GFC’s end-to-end phone-based customer service support, while Red Bridge Communications covers social media, early market research, focus groups and testing of alternative product forms.

“We have invested quite heavily into this business development project,” Hosking says. “The one thing you see time and again in China is some foreign company taking what they do in their own country and just rolling it out on the mainland. We did not want to do that.”

For its B2B strategy, GFC works with global online B2B seafood marketplace Gfresh to sell to restaurants and other food service outlets in Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai. Through Gfresh’s online platform, businesses can choose the grade and size of lobsters they want to order, pay for it, or track its exact location. Also working with Kela, Tmall and, GFC welcomes online opportunities to strengthen its scalability.

“All our marketing collateral, social media, packaging and everything else that we do revolve around building and nurturing one extremely important relationship – it is the link between our fishermen and our consumers,” Hosking says.