Sustainable Shrimp Partnership champions traceability at the core of its premium farmed shrimp offerings

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Trust is important to every relationship. That’s why the Sustainable Shrimp Partnership (SSP), an enterprise of Ecuadorian shrimp producers with the collective goal of raising the bar for the industry’s environmental and social standards, has turned its attentions to traceability – a component it believes is fundamental for building consumer trust.

Consumers are hungry for shrimp products they can believe in, according to Pamela Nath, SSP’s director. They want to know that the shrimp they are buying is responsibly produced and of the highest quality, which is a key reason behind why SSP is committed to sharing clear and complete information about its product offerings, said Nath.

“Through SSP, our aim is to provide complete and transparent information to the consumers so they can trust that the shrimp they are buying is safe, produced in the most responsibly way, with superior quality” she explained. “It’s not only important to know where your shrimp is from, but how it was farmed.”

SSP and Nath believe responsible aquaculture’s way forward will be illuminated by traceability. As such, the enterprise, which offers premium farmed shrimp to the U.S. market and beyond, seeks to ensure “all SSP products offer full traceability that meets consumer´s requirements,” Nath said.

For shrimp to be approved for sale under the SSP banner, it must be fully traceable, achieve Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification, demonstrate zero use of antibiotics across its production cycle, and have a neutral impact on local water systems. SSP arrived at each of these metrics through its collaboration with the Colombian Institute of Technical Standards and Certification (ICONTEC), a non-profit involved in setting up similar qualifiers for the Colombian coffee industry.

“We have been working with the non-profit Colombian Institute of Technical Standards and Certification (ICONTEC) who developed the sustainability standards for the Colombian coffee industry, to produce validation metrics for SSP shrimp,” Nath said. “These are now finalized and in operation, which is why our focus is now on finding a suitable traceability option to complete the SSP story.”

Reshaping the future for farmed shrimp

SSP’s story has had one overarching theme since its very first chapter, according to Jose Antonio Camposano, the Executive President of the National Chamber of Aquaculture of Ecuador and member of the Sustainable Shrimp Partnership´s Advisory Board – setting the farmed shrimp sector on a new journey of increased transparency and sustainability.

“When we founded the SSP we had a clear mission: to reshape the future of the farmed shrimp industry based on a sustainable production, the highest environmental standards and clean, healthy and safer products,” Camposano said. “It is definitively a breakthrough making SSP´s value proposition a reality on the farms, but we also need to give our customers and consumers the guarantee that this is 100 percent truthful and provide them with the tools to make the right purchasing decisions; traceability is the only way to do this. In today’s marketplace there is a latent risk of food fraud, and false claims so the consumer is demanding a reliable option that brings trust in a product´s profile, which is why we are reviewing the best possibilities technology can provide for creating a full traceability platform for SSP shrimp.”

In March, the first 1,000 metric tons of SSP-approved shrimp was launched in the United States, and more shipments are on the way, Nath said. Eleven farms in Ecuador, operated by SSP members Songa, Santa Priscila, Naturisa, Omarsa, and Produmar, are qualified to produce SSP-approved shrimp as of April 2019.

“We expect to see increasing demand of SSP shrimp in the coming months,” Nath said. “We are already in dialogue with multiple partners in the marketplace who are looking for premium products which meet the growing consumer demand, for clean, safe, and sustainable seafood.”

Let antibiotics be bygones

SSP is working to add more farms that grow shrimp with no antibiotics and that follow the organization’s protocols, Nath noted. The Scale Up Program created by SSP – which offers assistance to shrimp-growers, giving them access to knowledge and resources necessary to eventually obtain SSP qualification – is expected to help more small- and mid-sized farms in this collective effort to be antibiotic-free, the organization said.

“By including more farms and regions into the SSP program, we hope to raise the performance of the sector as a whole,” Nath said.

“In providing reliable information on shrimp that can be traced back to hatchery level, the SSP is providing a step forward, moving away from the commoditized low-value generic shrimp market,” she added.

Camposano said that SSP-approved shrimp stands as undeniable evidence that aquaculture without antibiotics can be done, and done well.

“SSP-qualified shrimp is tangible proof that aquaculture is possible without the use of antibiotics at all,” he said. “Ecuador is already known and respected for producing high-quality shrimp under the highest sanitary standards, and in providing reliable information that can be traced back to hatchery level. Leading an initiative like SSP, which is a reality today, is a step forward moving away from the commoditized low-value generic shrimp market.”

Aaron McNevin, the head of aquaculture at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), applauded SSP for challenging what he described as the “status quo” with “ambitions to demonstrate traceability that can be trusted and product testing to ensure no antibiotics.”

“This is a much more substantive approach to validation than what we typically see,” McNevin said. “The burden is now high and on the shrimp sector in Ecuador to show progress towards these targets.”

Moving forward, SSP will be looking to establish more collaborative partnerships both at home and abroad, said Nath. The organization will also be exhibiting at the upcoming Seafood Expo Global 2019 – taking place in Brussels, Belgium from 7 to 9 May – in Hall 6 at Stands #6-959, #6-858, and #6-1068.

For more information visit: http://www.sustainableshrimppartnership.org/

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