Party atmosphere kicks off new season of Dutch mussels

The annual celebration to open the bottom grown mussel season in the Netherlands got off to a rousing start last week, as a convoy of trucks were waved off from the town of Yerseke – the country’s mussel capital – destined for wholesalers and restaurants throughout Belgium and the Netherlands.

The convoy was sent off by football commentator and former Dutch national player Jan Boskamp and Flemish radio DJ Sven Ornelis, who helped prepare a feast of mussels for the crowd.

“The new mussels are small but well filled, and we are pleased to get the season off to a good start,” Addy Risseeuw, foreman of the Zeeland mussel growers, told SeafoodSource.

However, he warned that stocks for this season would be limited, as a result of a massive mortality of seed mussels in 2019, when an algal bloom decomposed and caused anoxic conditions in the Oosterschelde.

Dutch mussels are a firm favourite in Europe, especially with Belgian consumers, and with more people taking staycations this year due to travel restrictions imposed by COVID-19, the mussel growers hope that sales of Zeeland mussels will boom.

“To create a local party atmosphere, every Wednesday has been designated a mussel day in Yerseke over the summer months. Along the banks of the fishing port there will be mussel cookery demonstrations and tastings, food trucks, street artists, musicians, activities for young children, art expositions and mussel boat trips. The first one this week was a huge success,” said Tilly Sintnicolaas, manager of the Dutch Mussel Bureau, who is coordinating the “Mosselboulevard”.

Plans are also in hand to encourage greater mussel consumption amongst the younger Dutch population.

In partnership with the Good Fish Foundation, mussels are to be promoted to 25-35 year olds as a high quality protein convenience product, and one with the added benefits of a very low ecological footprint.

According to Sintnicolaas, a concerted campaign will start in September, which will include online mussel cookery lessons given by well-known Dutch musicians, media personalities and chefs. In addition, a TV commercial with the theme "Mussels, the fastest slow food" will be broadcast throughout September and October. Other activities are being planned for the annual Think Fish week  in the Netherlands and Belgium in the Fall.

“We have lots of ideas, including festivals, restaurant promotions and supermarket demonstrations and tastings, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, many of these have been postponed for now, but we look forward to resurrecting them soon,” Sintnicolaas said. 

Photo courtesy of the Dutch Mussel Bureau


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