Australian crocodile meat poised to take bite of US market

ABC Rural By Cara Jeffery

An exporting entrepreneur is one step closer to putting Australian crocodile on the menu in the United States.

New South Wales product developer Marnie Flanagan has landed a deal to export crocodile to the US.

“We are the only company in the world that can import endangered exotic meat species from Australia to the US,” Ms Flanagan said.

“I thought I would start with the toughest one, which is crocodile, and we just landed our first airfreight shipment of crocodile steaks into [New York airport] JFK.”

Her move into international markets comes on the back of success domestically.

Croc a hit in Wagga Wagga

Ms Flanagan hatched a deal with a major supermarket chain to stock her croc meat products in metro and regional stores.

Surprisingly, one of the top performing stores for sales of the meat is at Wagga Wagga, in southern NSW.

“One of the major challenges is learning what our demographic is and what cuts they want as we are creating a new category of meats,” she said.

Ms Flanagan said in-store tests found 80 per cent of people wanted to try crocodile meat however, getting it onto their plates routinely was difficult.

“From a young age, Aussies are trained to eat lamb, beef and chicken and introducing something routinely onto that plate is definitely a challenge,” she said.

“There is no reason it can’t be there; it is clean, has a beautiful texture, is 98 per cent fat-free and has the highest protein of all meats.”

Ms Flanagan said the top cut of crocodile, the tail steak, retailed for about $40 a kilogram, on par with salmon steak.

Dunedoo’s own Dundee

Ms Flanagan, who grew up on a beef property near Dunedoo in the NSW central-west, sources her crocodile meat from sustainable farms in the Northern Territory and far north Queensland.

“Australia has the best meat in its own backyard and it’s all natural and that’s what consumers are demanding,” she said.

“I’m tapping into the amazing adventure story of Australian crocodile when I’m pitching it to the US.

“I always start the conversation with ‘I’m the Australian female version of Crocodile Dundee [and] we need to talk’,” she said.

“It’s pretty rare that I won’t at least get someone to stay on the phone.”