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08/11/2022

ASC Holds 1st Shrimp Summit

1st-of-its-kind event aims to unite North American retailers with Ecuadorian producers of ASC-certified and labeled shrimp
Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
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ASC Holds 1st Shrimp Summit
The 2022 ASC Shrimp Summit offered an in-depth look at the supply chain right where it starts: on the farm.

On July 12-13, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) hosted the inaugural 2022 ASC Shrimp Summit, in Guayaquil, Ecuador. The first-of-its-kind event aimed to unite North American retailers with Ecuadorian producers of ASC-certified and labeled shrimp, offering an in-depth look at the supply chain right where it starts: on the farm.

Kathleen McDavitt, U.S. market development manager at the Utrecht, Netherlands-based ASC, described the summit as “the perfect opportunity to connect grocers who are experiencing this growing demand for farmed seafood with the producers who are supplying it to them.”

Adds McDavitt: “As retailers continue to engage with their customers about farmed seafood, there’s no better way to make them better informed than giving them the opportunity to learn what certified seafood farming and processing looks like in person. This also, of course, gives retailers the opportunity to share with the producers the preferences and issues that are most important to their customers.”

To accomplish this goal, ASC gathered 14 representatives from major food retailers, including Albertsons, Ahold Delhaize USA and Loblaws, along with such industry heavyweights as Sysco, for a series of farm tours, panels and workshops over the two-day summit.

[Read more: "Strategies for Selling Seafood Post-COVID"]

Known as the “gateway to the Galapagos,” Guayaquil is a port city in southern Ecuador. Greater Guayaquil stretches across land and coast, where its diverse ecosystem strikes a unique balance with the largest shrimp industry in the world. The country went from 5.6% global production in 2010 to 22.1% in 2021, exporting more than USD $5 billion in shrimp alone.

“We worked closely with Ecuadorian-based Sustainable Shrimp Partnership (SSP) to ensure over 40 aquaculture companies were represented as part of the effort to expand dialog between the two markets,” notes McDavitt.

The busy agenda included:

  • Trips to four ASC-certified shrimp farms demonstrating a wide range of production volumes and environments, including those using sea water (high salinity) and river water (low salinity), with both resulting in healthy mutual water exchange.
  • An up-close look at hatcheries and harvest activities, which is when ASC-certified farms are audited to monitor and document practices during the busiest times of the year.
  • Samplings of ASC-certified shrimp dishes, showing the unique flavors that arise from Ecuador’s mid-salinity environment, where antibiotic-free, responsibly farmed Pacific white shrimp are raised.
  • A series of panels and workshops featuring retailers, producers and processors to foster better understanding of the North American marketplace and ASC-certified, labeled shrimp production in Ecuador.

In other sustainable shrimp news, specialty grocer Gelson’s highlighted Del Pacifico’s wild-caught blue Mexican shrimp at all of the retailer’s 27 Southern California locations with a special 25%-off promotion that ran July 22-24.

Caught off the western coast of Mexico, the shrimp are chemical- and preservative-free and completely traceable. They’re caught using artisanal panga boats powered by the winds and tide to drift a “suripera” net, one of the most sustainable ways to catch shrimp. The product is then processed, flash-frozen once and shipped the same day that it’s caught to ensure and preserve freshness and premium quality.

The shrimp are also fair-trade certified, which means a premium from all purchases is returned directly to the fishers themselves. Currently, a portion of the premium must be spent on environmental conservation projects, while the rest can be spent as the fishers and community determine.

“Del Pacifico’s wild blue Mexican shrimp aligns perfectly with what type of seafood we want to offer our customers: It’s clean, sustainable, fair-trade certified and delicious,” said Fernando Moreno, meat and seafood buyer for Encino, Calif.-based Gelson’s, when the promotion rolled out in July. “It’s a great time for customers to take advantage of the special promo and discover how versatile this shrimp is. The sweet, succulent taste and crisp, snappy texture make them a great option for all types of occasions and recipes, from shrimp cocktail and ceviche to pasta dishes or tossing them on the grill.”

During the promotion, Gelson’s customers could find specially priced wild-caught blue Mexican shrimp offered by Downey, Calif.-based Del Pacifico at the grocer’s seafood counters, as well as packaged in its frozen seafood sections. 

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