When one thinks of quality seafood, one certainly doesn’t conjure up images of… Coles. If you had to pick an Aussie supermarket, I’m not saying Coles would be the dead last option; but you’d probably go for Woolies before heading towards that big red circle. In any case, you’ll now be able to purchase sashimi-grade tuna at – yes – Coles of all places.
Tuna of this quality is usually exported overseas at a premium and supplied to the country’s finest restaurants. Given the recent ripple effect COVID-19 has had upon both the domestic hospitality sector and wider international trade, there’s suddenly a whole lot of stock with far less of the usual suspects to offload said stock. Hence selling sashimi-grade tuna through Coles.
“When the international market collapsed due to COVID-19, and local restaurants were ordered to close, we needed a way to keep our boats fishing and 50 staff employed,” says Heidi Walker of Walker Seafood.
“Two weeks ago I contacted Coles to see if they could help put our tuna in their supermarkets and they jumped at the chance.”
Walker Seafood is best known for exporting approximately 80% of their tuna to the US and Japan. The remaining 20% supplies the likes of Rockpool Bar & Grill, Stokehouse, MoVida, and other eateries of the same calibre. In other words, top quality fish has never been more accessible for the everyday consumer.
Starting Wednesday, Walker Seafood’s primo yellowfin tuna steaks will be available at 150 Coles stores across the east coast (NSW, Victoria, Queensland). The best part? These tuna steaks are set to be priced at just $35 a kilogram – that’s roughly half the cost of sashimi-grade yellowfin before COVID-19.
“We want the tuna to be accessible to all Australians, while also being ready to support chefs when restaurants reopen,” says Walker.
“It’s likely we’ll export less.”
Say what you will, but personally, I’m chalking this up as a victory – albeit minor – in the face of an otherwise pessimistic situation.