South Island salmon producer King Salmon has launched a new premium breed of salmon targeting local and overseas professional chefs and high-end restaurants.
The company says that the product, Ora King, is founded on more than two decades of classical breeding.
For some months the company has been testing the product in overseas markets and it was served at the Governor General's dinner in honour of the country's Olympians in London in July.
Ora King has been selectively available in Europe, Australia and China and is soon to be launched in the United States and Japan. This month the product is being launched to professional chefs in New Zealand.
The company has set up a specialist food service team to market the product directly to chefs, the hospitality industry and selected distributors.
However the launch has the potential to be overshadowed by the company's $8 million application to the Environmental Protection Authority to build eight new farms in the Marlborough Sounds, some in areas where marine farming is prohibited.
The company's application has been met with strong opposition from the local Marlborough Sounds community. Commentators say the new initiative is high-risk because the company's supply to overseas markets depends on the EPA's approval.
The EPA's hearing on the matter is in its last week. It is scheduled to issue a draft decision to the Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson on November 19 and a final decision by December 31.
However the EPA has asked Wilkinson for another three months to make its decision, citing concerns that the time constraints would compromise a robust decision.
The company said if granted all the space applied for it would be able to increase export income from $60 million to $220m a year and create more than 300 new jobs for the region.
King Salmon is the world's biggest farmer and supplier of the King salmon variety with 55 per cent of the global market.
It produces about 7,500 metric tonnes of King salmon a year accounting for 70 per cent of the country's salmon production.
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