About our mussels

Every packet of Norfolk Bay Smoked Mussels you open up and enjoy may seem like a fairly simple food product to produce at first glance, however this is far from the truth... In fact, everyone of those mussels in the packet has been on a long journey through a series of rigorous quality checks and balances to make it to the supermarket shelf where you may have purchased them from.

The start of the process involves sourcing the raw material which is mussel spat (the name for juvenile mussels). If mussels cannot be collected conventionally from a wild spat dropper farm like the ones in Norfolk Bay because of a poor season due to unfavourable weather conditions or other factors, there is another way of creating spat, that way is by unconventional mussel reproduction which is done in a state of the art lab and Australia’s first mussel hatchery located at Spring Bay Seafoods in Triabunna on Tasmania's East Coast.

The lab can take wild stock from the ocean and manipulate the mussels into spawning through temperature shock. This elevated temperature makes the mussels spawn, thinking that spring is approaching with warmer water currents. The mussels can be identified as to whether they are male or female by the colour of the spawn that is being ejected from them.

Once all the spawn is collected and fertilised it’s stored in large vat tanks with circulating sea water where rope is coiled up inside the tank allowing the newly born microscopic mussels to attach themselves to the rope. In this time the mussel spat are being fed a diet of several different algae’s produced by the CSIRO in Hobart.

Mussel larvae on culture rope.

After 3 months in the growing tanks the mussels are taken out into the ocean and grown out for several more months. After this time the mussels are stripped from the ropes and sorted into a size profile that is ideal for growing together in uniform size. Any mussels that are too big or too small are discarded, leaving only the optimum sized specimens to be re-socked and hung back out in the ocean.

How our mussels are grown.

The time taken to grow the mussels in the nutrient rich waters that flow down the East Coast of Tasmania from spawn to harvest is approximately 18 - 24 months. Once fully grown the mussels are harvested and delivered into our factory and then put though a specially designed mussel meat extraction machine.

The mussel cooking line (as we call it) is the only one of its kind in Australia and is capable of cooking 1 tonne of mussels per hour. The production line stretches about 40 meters and consists of 3 different critical control points, first at pre-conditioning the mussels and beard removal, second at cooking temperature, pressure and separation and third at cooling and packing.

Start of the mussel cooking line.

End of the mussel cooking line.

Next the mussels are put into a brine solution and spread out onto trays and rolled into one of our smokers. The smoking kilns are computer controlled and probed right through the smoking process for quality assurance in maintaining perfect temperature and moisture control. We hot smoke our mussels with native Tasmanian oak, mixed with a small amount of German beech wood which gives them a well-balanced smoky taste that doesn't overpower the mussel, and preserves their moist soft texture.

Mussels brined rolling into the smoker room.

Mussels inside one of our smokers.

After 4 hours of hot smoking the mussels are chilled and then packed into one of 6 flavours.

These flavours are: Natural, Garlic Pepper, Sweet Chilli, Bush Lemon, Barbecue Spices, Antipasto Mix.

All of our smoked mussels are dosed with a shot of high quality GM free Tasmanian canola oil which is cold pressed right on the farm where it is grown in North Western Tasmania. We then mix in different spices and sauces, vacuum pack them in printed pouches, check-weigh every single packet after it comes off the packing machine, visually inspect the quality of every packet, and then it’s time to box them up and ship them out for our customers to enjoy.

Vacuum packing mussels.

Ready to be check-weighed after the packing machine.

So next time you buy one of our packets of Norfolk Bay Smoked Mussels, spare a thought for the work that goes into the product you hold in your hand. Every pack we send out has met the stringent quality parameters we set upon ourselves and are audited by, so all our customers can be assured they are buying a very high quality unique Tasmanian seafood product that we are very proud to produce.

Quick Facts

Norfolk Bay & Spring Bay smoked mussel brands are the only Australian smoked mussel products on the market and there are no other Australian mussel growers to date that have ventured into the value adding industry, making us a true pioneer in this field within Australia.

Norfolk Bay/Spring Bay mussels are certified organically grown by NASAA which is a certification body recognised right across the world.

Norfolk Bay/Spring Bay Mussels are an endemic native Australian mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) which have a distinctly sweet and savoury taste.