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World - The Great Mussel Debate: What’s Wild, What’s Farmed and What Certification Scheme Fits the Bill?

Nicki Holmyard, Advocate contributor and co-founder of Offshore Shellfish Ltd. in the UK, details mussel producers’ conundrum

Mussels are an important global commodity, which are cultivated in North and South America, Asia, Europe and Australasia. They are important as a human food, can be turned into a valuable omega-3 extract, or an ingredient in fish feed, and are also used in animal feed, particularly in China.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), global production in 2018 was 2.1 million metric tons (MT), up from 1.8 million MT in 2015. Total value in 2018 reached $4.5 billion, up from $3.2 billion in 2015. Asia was responsible for more than half of the production, with Europe recording 532,000 MT and the Americas 411,000 MT.

The most significant producers in 2018 were China (903,000 MT), Chile, (369,000 MT) and Spain (284,000 MT). Making up the middle ground were New Zealand (86,000 MT), Italy (62,000 MT), France (57,000 MT), Korea, (50,000 MT) Netherlands, Denmark and Thailand (around 45,000 MT each), Canada (27,000 MT) and Greece (22,000 MT).

Several different species of mussels are farmed. Thailand and the Philippines are the main producers of the green mussel (Perna viridis); Mytilus chilensis, the Chilean blue mussel, is grown in Chile; the Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) is found in Spain, France, Greece and Italy; Mytilus edulis, also known as the blue mussel, is produced in northern European countries such as the UK, Ireland, the Atlantic coast of France, Denmark and Norway; New Zealand grows the green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus); and the Koreans produce Mytilus coruscus.

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