Live lobster to reach new markets thanks to latest container tech

Live lobster may soon be going where it has never gone before, thanks to the latest advancement in transportation technology from CMA CGM Group, with help and expertise from EMYG Environnement & Aquaculture.

A focal point for CMA CGM at the 2016 Seafood Expo Global/Seafood Processing Global event last week in Brussels, Belgium, was the new Aquaviva container, which allows for the safe carriage of live lobsters in their original water and in conditions maintaining their natural habitat. The container – which features EMYG’s unique Innopure technology – is the result of four years of research and development between CMA CGM Reefer teams and EMYG, a company specializing in water purification and filtration.

Mauricio Bonilla, commercial director for CMA CGM Reefer, is confident that the Aquaviva container will introduce live lobster to areas that have been unable to acquire the species in such a state before.

“We’re going to enter areas and markets where today, we aren’t yet moving live lobster,” Bonilla told SeafoodSource. “We’re going to be able to take this further inland to areas where it couldn’t be done before.”

With Aquaviva, live lobsters are placed within their own cubby among a mini metropolis of Styrofoam panels and, once the container is sealed, are submerged into water kept at a temperature of one to two degrees – optimal for species’ hibernation. The water is derived from the lobsters’ natural habitat; it’s regulated and circulated throughout the container by an Innopure pump over the course of roughly 10 to 13 days while it is transported overseas by freight.

“Lobsters are traveling at one to two degrees. At that temperature, they’re hibernating. They’re like a rock in a hole. Our job is to maintain the temperature,” Bonilla explained.

Lobster can now be delivered utilizing techniques other than frozen by sea or alive and on ice by airfreight. These methods haven’t resulted in the best product, according to Bonilla.

“In planes, lobsters are kept moist, but not in the water. So they are stressed and the quality is not the best when they arrive,” he said.

Initial markets for Aquaviva are North America and Europe, with expansion expected to follow. CMA CGM and EMYG are also considering expanding the container in other ways – beyond lobster, for example.

”I think it’s going to be very big – not only for lobster, but for other species,” said Bonilla.

CMA is testing out the market, listening to feedback from potential business partners about the size and number of containers they might need.

As of now, the initial prototype Aquaviva containers are of the 20-foot variety, said Bonilla, with the company currently looking into the development of 40-footers as well.


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