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July 2, 2013
John Filose Evaluates Aonori Aquafarms’s Brown Shrimp
For twenty-three years, John Filose was vice-president of sales, marketing and distribution and a corporate officer at Ocean Garden Products in San Diego, California, USA. He reports: I recently became the marketing advisor for Aonori Aquafarms, a shrimp farm in Baja California, Mexico, that grows Mexican brown shrimp (Farfantepenaeus californiensis) in ponds covered with a mat of macroalgae. Here, Filose evaluates Aonori’s 41/50 headless, shell-on tails.
• Raw Shell Color: darker than traditional farmed whites (Penaeus vannamei), but lighter than boat-caught F. californiensis. The Aonori bluish/grey color is similar to farmed and wild blue shrimp (P. stylirostris). (Note: I have only seen larger sizes of Mexican wild browns, 21s, 16s and the U sizes.)
• Raw Meat Color: again darker than farmed vannamei. Very similar to farmed stylirostris. (Note: darker than vannamei can be both a negative and positive, depending on how the product is sold and who buys it. Asian buyers and consumers generally want lighter colors because they look more appetizing to the eye. Anglo buyers generally do not care about the raw shell or raw meat color.)
• Veins: very thin, very bluish, not at all like the thick, yellow-brown vein in Mexican boat-caught brown shrimp.
• Peeling: the shells came off easily. Some shrimp had no veins. (Note: the very thin vein, or no vein at all means this shrimp can be used as “Peel and Eat” shrimp—cooked in the shell, then served and peeled by the consumer, a major plus.)
• Preparation: sautéed in olive oil with garlic and white wine and served with angel hair pasta, the shrimp turned a brilliant pink, which consumers like. They had a sweet, natural taste, with a firm bite, another big plus.
Filose also evaluated Aonori’s head-on shrimp and supplied this photograph of the cooked product:
That beautiful red color is just what Spanish and French buyers like. (Note: as a rule, markets can get much higher per pound prices from head-on presentations, the ultimate value-added product!
European households buy cooked, head-on shrimp from the refrigerated sections of their supermarkets. The Spanish and French processing firms cook mostly Ecuadorian vannamei, then chill and deliver it to supermarkets. Europeans take the shrimp home, peel it and then eat it with mayonnaise or a simple chipotle-type sauce. Head-on presentations are also appearing in USA markets as Asian cuisines increase in popularity.
Summary: Aonori shrimp has qualities that translate into “features and benefits” for buyers, end users and consumers. In general, I am really high on the Aonori business model. Their polyculture concept of shrimp and seaweed (Ulva) gives them real advantages. They can market the seafood as an ingredient for snacks and sushi wraps. Additionally, the shrimp feed on the Ulva mats covering the ponds, which reduced feed costs and the use of fish meal.
Information: John Filose, Filose & Associates, Business Consulting for the Seafood Industry, 1921 Wandering Road, Encinitas, California 92024, USA (cell phone 760-815-6434, email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Sources: Emails to Shrimp News International from John Filose. June 28–July 1, 2013.
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