Revealed: The industry that beat the COVID-19 sales slump – and how they broke decades of traditions to do it
- Oyster farms in Port Lincoln, SA, saved their industry by shifting sales online
- As COVID-19 took hold in March, their restaurant and market sales disappeared
- Growers opened websites and social media pages and started home deliveries
Oyster farms battling a COVID-19 sales slump saved their industry by shifting from fish markets onto social media to push their product.
Growers across South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula were beginning to bounce back after a potentially devastating oyster virus struck farms last year, when the pandemic took hold in March.
The coronavirus outbreak zapped demand from restaurants and markets as economic activity came to a halt.
But determined to act rather than ride it out, many Port Lincoln producers broke decades of tradition by turning to digital platforms to sell their stock.
Oyster Farms have turned to online methods of selling stocks after demand through traditional methods, such as fish markets, ran dry when COVID-19 hit earlier this year. Pictured are Pristine Oyster Farm staff collecting oysters last month
Brendan Guidera, manager of Pristine Oysters in Coffin Bay, said the adaptations will now form a permanent part of the business once things return to normal.
‘Since POMS [Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome] and now COVID, the market has changed,’ Mr Guidera told The Advertiser.
‘We created the website when things really hit the fan back in April. Since then, things have really started to build, which has been great and we would like to continue the service even if the market recovers.’
Before COVID-19 hit, Mr Guidera said they were selling 4.5 million oysters a year.
Although business is not yet booming at pre-pandemic levels, Pristine is selling about 1200 dozens oysters a week via its website.
Their Facebook page has already amassed more than 3200 likes, with some orders coming from Sydney and Melbourne.
Pristine Oyster Farm is now selling about 1200 oysters a week (one pictured) through their website
Mr Guidera said growers in Tasmania and New South Wales have also turned online, creating competition.
However, he said the process has helped the Pristine establish themselves as a brand and that the business enjoys now getting paid straight away.
Adelaide resident Rory Bluett used to make the drive across town once a month to purchase oysters, but is now delighted they are dropped to his door.
‘The pricing was pretty competitive from my understanding but Pristine were able to deliver the oysters fresh to my door for the same price from where I used to get them after spending the morning driving,’ he said.
Oysters are delivered in a foam box with prices starting at $60 for five dozen unopened.
Pristine customers can also purchase a glove and oyster knife for an additional $10.
Prices start at $60 for five dozen unopened oysters, with delivery costs depending on postcode