Ecuadorian venture launches Latin America’s first artemia production

Published on
February 17, 2020

Ecuadorian industry and aquaculture firm Codemet has partnered with Belgian-based hatchery supplier I&V Bio for the Latin American production of artemia, a major component of shrimp feed that until now had to be imported into Ecuador, according to a video posted by Codemet.

The laboratory is the first of its type in Latin America, and the fourth worldwide.

Nutrition is key to raising shrimp, as all early stages of shrimp larvae require live prey. Artemia, an arthropod that produces dormant eggs called cysts that are eaten by shrimp, are suitable for feeding live young shrimp while providing the best nutritional value, Yahira Piedrahíta, executive director of the National Chamber of Aquaculture (CNA), said during the launching ceremony, according to local newspaper Expreso.

"The consumer always sees a beautiful, healthy, appetizing shrimp on his plate, but behind that he must know that there is an entire industry that dedicates lots of resources on quality, safety, in making it disease-free," Piedrahíta noted. She called I&V Bio's technique “innovative and timely” as it establishes a country-wide benchmark in production regulatory compliance subjected to the highest international standards.

According to I&V Bio’s website, the company’s latest technology is INSTART 1 Instant Artemia, which consists of contamination- and cyst-free live Artemia nauplii, which are packed in 800 gram trays as a dry paste and delivered to hatcheries daily. The process employs cryptobiosis to halt artemia’s metabolic processes before they hatch.

In this state of suspended animation, the artemia can be conserved and transported to hatcheries, where the laboratories can continue the biological process and sell the artemia as soon as it does hatch, which is when it is at its highest nutritional value.

Once hatched, artemia begins to grow and can double in size, but its nutritional value is halved, Codemat Vice President José Carlos Peré told newspaper El Universo.

"This type of product will allow [shrimp] laboratories to follow strict biosafety protocols, freeing them from the burden of hatching Artemia nauplii under conditions that are often not optimal," he said. He also noted that in other processes there is a risk bacteria blooms during hatching, which are difficult to control. Processing artemia locally will provide laboratories with greater control over the supply chain, making the process more efficient.

Codemat’s laboratory, working with I&V Bio’s technology, aims to improve the nutrition and product quality of Ecuador’s shrimp exports. It boasts more than 50 salt-water incubation tanks that use lighting to simulate marine environments optimal for artemia’s hatching process.

The company is looking to address 33 percent of national demand in three months – to cover the nutritional needs for Ecuador’s production of more than 5 billion shrimp larva a month – and reach 66 percent by year’s end, or a production rate of  800 to 1,000 pounds of artemia a day. Up until now, the more than 200 laboratory shrimp larva producers in the country have had to import artemia from countries such as the U.S. and Russia.

Shrimp is Ecuador’s second-largest export after oil. In 2014 it produced 611 million pounds of shrimp, and that number jumped to more than 1.4 billion pounds in 2019. Production is expected to double in the next 10 years.

Present at the launching ceremony, both Ecuadorian Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner and Foreign Commerce Minister Iván Ontaneda highlighted the importance of shrimp exports in the nation’s economy. The export market brings in USD 3.5 billion (EUR 3.2 billion) a year, and provides approximately 260,000 direct jobs. Sonnenholzner emphasized the significant opportunities that lie ahead for Ecuador’s shrimp sector, but also underlined the need of shrimp producers to stay ahead of the technological curve while also remaining ecologically sustainable.

Founded in 1984 to originally serve the aquaculture sector, Guayaquil-headquartered Codemet currently operates in five countries and has expanded into the areas of industry, environment, poultry, and livestock with more than 420 direct employees.

In turn, I&V Bio is a products and services hatchery that was kicked off in 2012. It has operations in Thailand, Vietnam, and India. I&V Bio partners with Burapha University, one of Thailand’s largest public universities, which receives regular samples of INSTART 1 to verify that it is vibrio-free.

The Ecuadorian laboratory is located in the town of San Pablo, located on central Ecuador’s Pacific coast. Its 7,000 residents mostly work in artisanal fishing, seafood preparation and shrimp-larvae breeding. The investment needed to launch the laboratory was not reported.  

Photo courtesy of Napat/Shutterstock 

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