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Champagne time for SA oyster firm despite virus slowdown

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Eyre Peninsula oyster company Angel Seafood has announced record March quarter sales despite reduced demand in the final weeks as a result of COVID-19.

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The ASX-listed company sold 1.1 million oysters in the three months to the end of March – up 304 per cent on the same period last year – bringing its financial year-to-date sales to 4.4 million.

The company attributed the increase in sales to an improved stock profile and an earlier recommencement of sales than usual following the spawning season.

Angel Seafood CEO Zac Halman said he was pleased with the sales result, particularly as it was impacted by a slowdown in sales towards the end of March when restaurants were forced to close.

“Thanks to a stronger stock profile and our team’s hard work we managed to sell three times more oysters than over the same period last year,” he said.

“We were also fortunate to experience excellent growing conditions throughout the quarter, resulting in our stock profile further improving towards larger oyster sizes.”

Angel Seafood is the largest sustainable and organically certified producer of Pacific oysters in the Southern Hemisphere.

Its head office is in Port Lincoln and currently holds 24 million oysters in stock across its leases in Coffin Bay, Cowell and Haslam.

In its statement the company said it use the COVID-19 slowdown to further improve its stock profile by growing larger quantities of oysters to a larger size, which attract higher average sale prices.

It expects to recommence oyster exports in the June quarter as access to international markets re-open and reported an increase in export inquiries.

“The company is currently exploring opportunities to export into several countries in Asia and the Middle East, whilst also selling to existing customers in Hong Kong,” this morning’s announcement said.

“Angel is working closely with the South Australian and the Federal Governments to access the ‘International Freight Assistance Mechanism’ initiative which helps exporters of high-value products, including seafood, air freight into key overseas markets.

“This initiative will operate until ordinary commercial markets return, or for six months, whichever is the earlier. This is expected to see Angel through to the peak domestic season.”

Like many companies, Angel Seafood last month withdrew its full year sales guidance for the 2020 financial year.

It has also deferred planned expansionary capital expenditures, reduced staff hours and negotiated with NAB to increase cash inflows and working capital by a total of $1.5 million.

Halman said the reduction in consumer demand was expected to continue until social distancing rules are lifted and eateries cab re-open.

“The past couple of months have certainly been unprecedented in terms of the impact to our daily lives,” he said.

“Pleasingly, Angel has held up well, with our team staying healthy and continuing to grow our business.

“I am confident that with the responses we have put in place to navigate the short-term impacts, we will come through this challenging period in a much stronger position that will enable the continued growth of Angel.”

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