Belgian mussels from our own sea farm
The first mussels from the Belgian North Sea come from the sea farm of Colruyt Group and its partners. With this innovation project, we are investing on an excellent alternative source of protein: nutritious and sustainable, as well as tasty.
First Belgian mussel harvest
In the summer of 2023 fresh market Cru launched the sale of mussels from the first Belgian sea farm. This is a first! A lot of research preceded the realisation and the result is a tasty and high-quality product to be proud of. The intended harvest of 15 tons of mussels in the first year will undoubtedly increase in future years.
Why do we invest in aquaculture?
As a retailer, we are actively working on innovative solutions to meet the growing demand for balanced and sustainable protein sources. In that context, we also strongly believe in the potential of the Belgian North Sea for the local cultivation of mussels, oysters and seaweed. That is why, in early 2022, together with DEME among others, we started the construction of the first commercial sea farm off the coast of Nieuwpoort and Koksijde: Zeeboerderij Westdiep. We are currently using 1 km², which is one quarter of the total project area.
What are the benefits of suspended rope culture for mussels?
In the sea farm, we adopt the suspended culture technology. The lines on which the mussels grow float in the sea. This has many advantages over traditional bottom culture.
- The mussels grow two to three times faster, ensuring sustainable use of space.
- They contain more meat, have a slightly salty taste and a cleaner shell.
- Mussel farming is possible in the harsh conditions inherent to our North Sea.
- When harvesting, the seabed is not damaged.
Is mussel farming sustainable?
The cultivation of mussels, seaweed and oysters at open sea is an extractive form of aquaculture in which the shellfish obtain their nutrients from the seawater and nothing is added to the ecosystem. Mussels also absorb CO2 and use it as building blocks for their shell. Moreover, they are a good choice as a protein source due to their high protein content and low CO2-emissions (about 0.6 kg) per kilogram of mussel meat. Furthermore, the sea farm can serve as a shelter and 'nursery' for fish and other marine life, since fishing and pleasure boating are prohibited there. In this way, the project promotes biodiversity in the Belgian North Sea.
What plans does Colruyt Group have at sea?
In the future, we will continue to invest in aquaculture with our partners. Therefore, our group invested in a boat for both maintenance and installation works, and for mussel harvesting in the sea farm. In addition, an operational team will manage the further expansion of the sea farm. In this way, we want to increase the number of mussel lines from 31 in 2022 to 150.