Meet a member: Rowan Lamason (Little Tuna)
Rowan and Kate Lamason are the husband and wife team behind Little Tuna, the Cairns-based business selling high-end value-added tuna products. We spoke with Rowan about their inspiration for the business and use of sustainably-caught Australian seafood.
Tell us about your connection with the tuna industry.
I have been in the tuna industry my entire life. I started my career working on my family’s tuna longliners as a deckhand, before going on to gain my masters and engineering qualification and become a master on the boats. Over the last few years, I have stepped back from going to sea and focused on value adding and expanding product lines for Little Tuna.
What inspired you and your wife to start Little Tuna?
Kate and I used to eat a lot of canned tuna and we were shocked that there wasn’t Australian canned tuna available on the market.
You’re both supporters of sustainably-caught Australian seafood. Can you tell us about the tuna used in your products?
For Little Tuna, we use Albacore tuna, which is assessed by AFMA as ‘sustainable’. They are commonly found in eastern Australian and managed by strict quota. There are also limitations on the type of gear used to fish for tuna in the eastern tuna and billfish fishery.
How did you develop the recipes for your products?
There was a lot of trial and error. We made hundreds of jars with different ingredients. We kept going until we found a high-quality combination of flavours that complimented the fresh taste of the fish. Once we were satisfied with a few flavours, we tested them on family, friends and work colleagues and settled on the three product lines we have now.
How have customers responded to your products?
Since we launched in early 2017, the response has been great. Customers love that you can see the fish in a glass jar and see its quality. We love hearing from happy customers who report being able to enjoy Australian tuna once again after giving up on Australia canned tuna years ago when the canneries all moved offshore.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in launching the business?
Like any business, getting into the market is a big challenge. We’ve learned a lot about the food industry and retail sector and how they work. The experience has been a process of trial and error. Our story on Landline was well received, which helped enormously in launching our products.
Where can people find your products?
Little Tuna now has over 40 stockists located around Australia and the number keeps growing. We also sell online through our website, which lists the latest stockists.
What’s next for Little Tuna?
We’ve developed a few new limited-edition flavours and we’re working on the final touches for some exciting new products, so watch this space.