Auchan, BioMar, and Earthworm unite for sustainable shrimp launch

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

New shrimp product line, available in Auchan stores across France. © Auchan
New shrimp product line, available in Auchan stores across France. © Auchan

Related tags Auchan BioMar Earthworm Foundation shrimp responsible sourcing

French retailer, Auchan, Danish feed manufacturer, BioMar, Ecuadorian shrimp farmer, Edpacif, and global NGO, Earthworm Foundation, have teamed up to launch an eco-friendly shrimp product.

Auchan's seafood manager, Olivier Vandebeulque, highlighted the collective commitment needed across the entire value chain to meet customers' growing desire for sustainable options. He underscored the pivotal role of the collaboration with Earthworm Foundation in achieving this objective.

As part of the project, Auchan is selling trays containing only shrimp tails, which results in a 40% reduction in the carbon footprint associated with product transport, adds the supermarket lead. 

Notably, the discarded shrimp heads are processed locally in Ecuador for animal feed, contributing to a circular production model, he reports.

NGOs and the media have long been raising public awareness of the impact of fishing and farming techniques on the environment, noted a spokesperson for Auchan.

"Consumers are therefore increasingly aware of these issues."

Auchan works with its suppliers to improve its offer and limit its impact on the environment, she said, adding that the retailer is involved in the Millennial Salmon​ project, a strategic partnership among organisations along the value chain, aimed at improving and promoting more sustainable salmon production. Auchan was also the first retailer to produce trout​ using feed free from raw materials derived from industrial fishing.

Feed optimization tool 

Detailing the extensive efforts undertaken in the project, Henrik Aarestrup, vice president LATAM, shrimp and hatchery, at BioMar, said the feed company leveraged its sustainability impact assessment tool, BioSustain LCA, to optimize the shrimp feed recipe, and reduce its carbon footprint. This involved replacing fish oil with microalgae and sourcing 100% of marine protein from trimmings.

The project extended beyond feed optimization, he says, with the company's sustainability consultants providing recommendations to Edpacif on how to lower the carbon footprint of the shrimp farming process.

Energy efficiency 

Aarestrup told us the collaborative initiative has been under way for two years.

"It took a bit more than a year to get all partners aboard and establish the project. This included target setting, training of staff, documentation of feed ingredients and development of feed recipes, the review of and the upgrade of farming processes, etc. After that came the actual farming, processing, and shipment.

"At farm level, one of the key focus areas has been reduction of energy consumption. Our sustainability team carried out a study among different farmers and saw very large variances in energy consumption per kilo of shrimp even within the same farms. Different types of pumps and energy sources contribute to these variances; we see that one of the areas where farmers can reduce their impact and costs is through more energy efficient pumping."

Blue Impact feed being feed at Edpacific farm EC
Shrimp being given 'sustainable' feed at Edpacif farm, Ecuador

Responsible sourcing, social sustainability 

Addressing the critical issue of responsible ingredient sourcing, the BioMar expert outlined how none of the shrimp feed ingredients are sourced from deforested or tropical areas. “Shrimp feeds can contain up to 50% soy, so responsible sourcing of this key ingredient is crucial to achieving good environmental outcomes.”

Responsible shrimp production needs to take account of social sustainability as well, stresses Florie Loth, ocean program manager, Earthworm.

So, in Ecuador, the initiative focused on capacity-building initiatives, generating stable employment opportunities; Earthworm collaborated with Edpacif to enhance working conditions and provide improved housing for workers.

Also weighing in on the impact of the project, Marcelo Velez, Edpacif president, said it has empowered the shrimp producer to fortify its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) commitments, and also to improve its practices.

Welfare and environmental impact

The new product line, available in Auchan stores across France, comes under the Mr Goodfish label.

Launched in March 2010 in France by Nausicaá, National Sea Center, the Mr Goodfish program aims to raise awareness of responsible seafood consumption. The program covers three pillars: responsible feed, optimal farming conditions for animal welfare, and environmental impact.

As part of the project, Mr Goodfish and Earthworm worked in partnership to add a social pillar to the specifications for the Ecuadorian shrimp.

“We believe the project is raising the bar for shrimp products,” said Loth. “Our hope is that it will inspire others to adopt more sustainable practices practices that help preserve biodiversity and protect human rights.”

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