Prev Next

Flexing Kiwi mussel

18 Jul 2018
By Sarah Morgan
Future Cuisine NZ Story
Credit / Future Cuisine

Chinese consumers love seafood, especially if it’s live, and a total bonus if the food is sourced from the pristine shores of New Zealand. Future Cuisine general manager Joel Bourke explains how the NZ Story FernMark on its live green-shell mussel exports is helping customers in Shanghai lap up the fresh Kiwi delicacy.

West-Auckland based Future Cuisine was already selling frozen seafood to China. But it ramped up exports 18 months ago by introducing live – not frozen – mussels from Coromandel’s Gold Ridge Marine Farm.

General manager Joel Bourke says the company has entered into a virtually untapped market with the end-goal of building long-term business relationships, supported by the FernMark backing that signals the trusted business ties and quality New Zealand products that are highly valued by the Chinese.

Bourke says the FernMark License logo, the New Zealand Government’s country of origin accreditation programme, is a cost-effective mark of authentication for New Zealand-grade quality.

“We don’t have the marketing budgets to push an international profile, so the FernMark Licence logo is an inexpensive but effective way of having our government’s tick of approval, which particularly resonates with Chinese consumers.”

 “Our founder Joe Kouwenhoven and his wife Cynthia (a Chinese national) have a long-term vision for the company’s new venture that leverages the Kiwi-Chinese connection to benefit generations to come.”

On-the-ground staff in Shanghai are nurturing relationships with local distributors specialising in live seafood, to ensure the delicate Kiwi export is under the utmost care at every touch point.


“Our mussels are a live product so require a lot of focus and attention. Our dedicated team of Chinese partners ensure quality control and freshness from arrival to sale –backed by the FernMark logo, the stamp that confirms the quality.”

“From time of harvest in the Coromandel, it’s about a 36-hour journey before the live mussels are ready to be flown from Auckland to Shanghai.” Thanks to their live state – as opposed to frozen – they not only taste better but are also superior in size, texture and colour.

“While our frozen packaged mussels are popular, they’re a pre-cooked product, so sometimes people can overcook them.

We put lots of effort into educating the locals in Shanghai about preserving the quality that comes with paying a little bit more for fresh, live mussels.”


Boosting their success is Coromandel seafood icon, Fabian Steel of Mussel Madness, who regularly hosts in-store demonstrations and tastings in Shanghai supermarkets and restaurants.

“Shanghai loves Fabian and our live mussel products. He has a way of creating excitement and authenticity around his cooking demonstrations by showing the locals how to cook live mussels the ‘Kiwi way’.”

Leveraging some Kiwi muscle. Why not.

Future Cuisine is one of more than 100 New Zealand businesses that have the FernMark as a symbol for an authentic New Zealand product. The FernMark License programme is the Government’s official ‘country of origin’ accreditation programme, designed to protect and promote New Zealand products to the world.

To find out how your business can benefit from the FernMark Licence Programme visit

Or contact Jessica Guthrie today;