SYDNEY, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- A major Australian producer of abalone, which forms one of the country's top premium seafood exports to China, opened a new processing plant in South Australia's state capital Adelaide on Thursday.
The facility of Yumbah Aquaculture, touted as the largest abalone producer in the southern hemisphere, cost 1 million Australian dollars (771,368 U.S. dollars) and is expected to process more than 600 tons of abalone a year, the company said in a media release.
High-quality seafood is an important part of the state's plan to capitalize on the increasing global demand for premium products, South Australia's Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell, who opened the plant, was quoted as saying.
Australian's seafood exports to China totaled 85 million Australian dollars in 2016, with premium abalone products worth 32 million Australian dollars, figures from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade showed.
The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, which took effect in December 2015, is also set to eliminate the 10 to 14 percent tariff on abalone by Jan 1, 2019.
"The aquaculture industry in South Australia is one of the largest in economic value in Australia and the most diverse in the country," Bignell said.
"To have Yumbah's central processing facility here in South Australia -- receiving abalone from across the country and exporting it to the world -- is great for the State's economy and employment."
Packaged sales of abalone from the new plant are estimated to be more than 26 million Australian dollars next year alone, the company said.