Business, Community

Mussel makeover wins young entrepreneur awards top spot

Maegen Blom is a finalist in the Seafood Sustainability Awards. Photo: Supplied.

A young entrepreneur has been recognised for her part in helping give mussels a reputation makeover.

Maegan Blom, 19, is part of a small, passionate, team working at her family business, Mills Bay Mussels in Havelock.

And her bid to shine the spotlight on NZ Greenshell mussels has seen her take a top spot in the Seafood Sustainability Awards as a finalist.

The creative lead behind the rebrand of her family’s business, hopes to get people looking at the humble mussel in a more positive light.

“There is a perception around mussels in NZ and they are often viewed as a cheap form of protein or a food to indulge in.

“We believe that mussels are a delicious, healthy, sustainable superfood that with the right treatment can shine amongst all other top-quality NZ produce,” she says.

Maegen completed her first year of a commerce degree at Victoria University in Wellington last year.

She plans to head overseas this year and take a year out before returning to her studies next year.

There are a lot of people who are yet to discover how great mussels can be, she says.

“Setting up Our Tasting Room & Eatery in Havelock was one of the projects I was highly involved in – this is where we educate our customers about the exciting and delicious ways mussels can be enjoyed.

“Instead of growing our business through increasing volume we are finding ways for people to see mussels as a higher value food.”

Maegen, who grew up in Southland on a dairy farm came to Marlborough four years ago when her family.

Her parents, originally from the Netherlands, bought a small lodge in Nydia Bay, On the Track Lodge, and then diversified into the mussel business.

She has been trusted put some of her business ideas into practice, she says.

“There are a lot of people who want to help and support me. I am still pretty young, so I am quite honoured to be recognised among the other finalists.

“My dad is also a big motivator for me. He challenges me constantly to get out of my comfort zone and try new things.

“He has also given me a lot of freedom within the business to try things and carry out projects.”

Introducing new product offerings, using promotional marketing including ‘the best way to eat mussels’, and creating a website to increase market reach caught the judges’ attention.

“The finalists are shining examples of communities who contribute to the long-term sustainability of New Zealand’s seafood sector and ensure that our oceans are resilient, healthy and bountiful for future generations,” says deputy director-general of Fisheries New Zealand, Dan Bolger.

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