Time flies and the world changed a lot over the past 30 years – not only in Asia but also in Europe. As we started our business with exporting Dutch oysters (“platte oester”/Dutch Imperial) and mussels, it is good to dive deeper into the oysters.
We go back in time a little further; 1962 was a terrible year for the Oyster farmers in Yerseke, the Netherlands. Because of the cold winter, over 80% of the Native Dutch oysters died and 160 farmers were forced to stop. Many of them emigrated to Australia and Canada to start a new life, most of them setting up new oyster farms. A new life without friends, money and present-day technology; not really the life of an expat as we know it today.
Ten oyster farmers were left in Yerseke and they imported oysters from France to remain in business. However, this wasn’t successful so they started with the import of Japanese oysters from British Columbia, Canada. In the Netherlands, we call these “Dutch Creuse”, which is nowadays still the most farmed oyster.
In these times, the whole family took care of the business. Racks with roof tiles were located all around the Eastern Scheldt to catch the oyster seed. Ladies and kids removed the small oysters to let them grow in more protected areas until they were ready for consumption (2-3 years). Most oysters were consumed in the Netherlands and Belgium.
In the nineties, the oyster business reached calmer waters and some farmers slowly started with the first export to Hong Kong. High prices were paid for our famous Dutch Imperial oyster and they were bought throughout the whole season. However, there was also competition from other places in the world. They were more active in the relations with the buyers and could supply all year round. What was build up in the 90s and early 2000s was gone as fast as it came.
In 2014 we decided to discover the market in Hong Kong again. Can we do what they did 20-30 years ago? The French, Irish and Australian farmers did a good job in Hong Kong and have the biggest market share. However, with our native Dutch Imperial we are still unique and belong to the top of the world. In the last seven years, we have built a stable base of oyster lovers who we supply.
Oyster farmers in the Netherlands also began importing small French and Irish oysters that are ready to eat all year round (triploid). They will grow their last stage (at least one year) in the Netherlands, giving them all the Dutch characteristics.
Oysters are one of the healthiest and most sustainable seafood products. Superfood will only become more popular and we believe in a growing demand. Dutch innovation, high food safety standards combined with a beautiful, delicious oyster will find its way into the market now and in the future.
When the oyster farmer and nature are doing their job, one job remains for us, which is to educate the customer. Why and when to choose what kind of oyster, how to open it and let’s not forget how to enjoy it every time!
Freshly shucked Oysters with a good glass of champagne are for all times and we are looking forward to letting everyone in Hong Kong enjoy these beauties for the coming 30 years and longer.