Camanchaca flexed mucho marketing muscle with the debut of organic mussels under its Pier 33 Gourmet label at the Seafood Expo North America (SENA) in Boston. The new product was front and center of an expanding value-added range spotlighted at the show, which included Wild Argentine Red Shrimp, Bourbon Glazed Salmon and Ocean Raised Blackened Salmon.
“We received a lot of positive response to our introduction of organic mussels, as buyers are increasingly looking for such products to meet growing demand from seafood consumers,” said Bert Bachmann, US strategic development director of Camanchaca Inc., the Miami, Florida-based unit of Santiago, Chile-headquartered Camanchaca S.A.
The certified organic frozen fare features 20 to 25 mussels per one-pound (454-gram) package. Pre-cooked in natural sea brine and frozen to lock in freshness, the product is ready to serve after six minutes of stir-frying or microwave oven preparation.
“We are committed to offering only the highest quality seafood to our customers and consumers,” said Cesar Lago, president of Camanchaca Inc. “Pier 33 Gourmet Organic Mussels are inherently natural and free of any chemicals or antibiotics. We pursued the organic certification to add an extra dimension of value and meet the highest independently certified standards.”
The rope-cultured shellfish are sustainably grown in a vertically integrated system controlled from seed to sale of the final product. Camanchaca has access to more than 1,000 hectares designated for mussel cultivation within three fully operational farming areas.
The bivalve mollusks feed naturally in nets suspended at depths up to 25 feet below the surface of cold, nutrient-rich Humboldt Current waters of the southwest Pacific Ocean off Chiloé Island in Chilean Patagonia. They reach commercial size and weight after approximately one year of cultivation.
Upon harvest, the mussels are cleaned, debearded, cooked and frozen at the company’s automated plant in Rauco, which is not far from farming sites in Calcahue, Chequian and Pullao. Throughput per annum is in the range of 27 tons.
Chilean mussels are marketed as a healthy, nutritious and 100% natural food. Rich in protein, vitamins B12 and E, and Omega-3 fatty acids, they are loaded with minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and iodine. The shellfish are also low in cholesterol, high in phospholipid levels and rich in folic acid.
Chile is the largest exporter of mussels in the world, and the United States is the leading market for Camanchaca mussels, taking 26% of production. In addition to its new organic offering, the company packs mussels in butter and garlic sauce, as well as in tomato sauce and white wine sauce.
The US is also the top market for Camanchaca’s other major product lines. It accounts for 89% of langostino lobster tail sales, 69% of fresh salmon purchases, and 28% of frozen salmon sales.
According to the company’s website, total exports to the United States amounted to $95 million last year. That figure compares with $53 million generated in Europe, $31 million in Japan, $17 million in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, and $9 million in China and Southeast Asia. – Reported by John Saulnier