Økologiske muslinger dyrket på line i Limfjorden. Foto DSC.

Organic mussels ready to be served on the Danes’ dinner tables

Friday 24 May 19


Jens Kjerulf Petersen
DTU Aqua
+45 35 88 31 71
A longer harvest season, stable production and collaboration with the retail sector are to increase the Danes’ appetite for farmed mussels, which are being exported today.

Blue mussels have been grown commercially on longlines for more than ten years in Denmark, with production increasing in recent years.

Nevertheless, Danish farmers still export the vast majority of the farmed mussels, primarily to the Netherlands, from where they are forwarded to the rest of Europe.

“In many ways, it’s a pity that the organic mussels are exported to other countries in unprocessed form. Firstly, the Danes miss out on a delicious, sustainable, healthy, and inexpensive product; secondly, a large part of the process that adds value to the mussels, i.e. packing and distribution, takes place outside Denmark; and thirdly, the farmers become dependent on the economic climate in the Netherlands,” says professor Jens Kjerulf Petersen, DTU Aqua.

To change this situation and strengthen mussel farming in Denmark, DTU Aqua, Seafood Limfjord (farmer) and Vilsund Blue (processing) have joined forces in a project that is to develop the production of farmed mussels and increase sales in the Scandinavian market.

Fished versus farmed mussels
It is important that consumers are able to distinguish between fished and farmed mussels:

“Already at the beginning of the project, we converted to 100 per cent organic production—that is the best way to show consumers that our mussels differ from fished mussels,” says farmer Alex Mikkelsen from Seafood Limfjord.

Extension of the season
Farmed mussels, i.e. organic mussels, are a seasonal product. Previously, all mussels were harvested in June-July, but this period is too short when it comes to penetrating new markets. Therefore, one of the overall objectives of the project was to develop production in order to be able deliver mussels over a longer period.

“The project has demonstrated that the key to a good and stable production and an extended season is the collection of mussel spat. The farmer sets his spat collectors when mussel larvae are present in the water. The collection is an essential part of the farming process and a lot of effort has gone into developing the most efficient spat collectors,” says Camille Saurel, Senior Researcher on the project.

Among other things, a machine has been developed that prepares the spat collectors to ensure that they primarily attract mussels and not undesirable organisms such as acorn barnacles, sea squirts and starfish.

Increased sales in Denmark and Scandinavia
In the course of the project, Vilsund Blue has managed to increase sales in the Scandinavian market from 1 per cent to 10–14 per cent of the organic mussel production—a significant improvement that can pave the way for further sales.

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