Caravelle shrimp is a popular brand in Canadian supermarkets. The Caravelle shrimp claims to be sourced from a sustainable fishery and free from antibiotics. As shrimps are in demand in western countries, it is important to look if our shrimps are coming from a sustainable source and their human and environmental cost.
As most of the shrimp in North America is imported from farms in Southeast Asia and Central America, Caravelle shrimp is a better choice as these shrimps are neither wild-caught nor imported from overseas. The overseas farmed shrimps are contaminated with antibiotics and raised in ponds that were once mangrove forests. The mangrove forests sequester more carbon in soil compared to any other terrestrial forest ecosystem, which makes them ally in curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Overall, Caravelle shrimp is a good option for consumers as they are more fitting into the picture of sustainability.
Caravelle shrimps are popularly sold in Canadian supermarkets like IGA, Metro Inc., Super C, and Sobeys. In the US, Omega Sea Inc. is the exclusive importer and distributor of the Caravelle Shrimps. Other than the US and Canada, the Caravelle shrimp is exported to Switzerland, Belgium, UK, and Scandinavian countries. Caravelle shrimps are cold-water northern shrimps (Pandalus Borealis) by La Crevette du Nord Atlantique Inc. They are cooked and peeled with further options including, fresh, frozen, or in brine to choose from. They are harvested in the cold water of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and have a sweet taste with a firm texture.
Caravelle shrimp claims that their shrimps are sourced from sustainable fishery as they are caught in the wild. Wild shrimp means they are harvested from their natural habitats rather than being farmed. Wild shrimps are usually better than farmed as they contain no antibiotics and growth hormones.
Unlike other frozen shrimps and seafood, Sodium Tripolyphosphate (STPP) is NOT used in the processing of Caravelle shrimps. STPP is used as a preservative in seafood like shrimps to retain the tenderness and moisture during storage and transport. As STPP helps in retaining the moisture, it increases the weight of the product and hence the cost. Although STPP when used in food in accordance with good manufacturing practice is recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), when used in large amounts can cause skin, eye, and respiratory irritation.
The Caravelle shrimp comes in plastic packaging with nutritional value at the back of the packet. Other than the standard shrimp packets sold in supermarkets, La Crevette du Nord Atlantique Inc. tailors the packaging according to the client’s specifications. As we all know plastic packaging is extremely harmful to our environment as plastics are non-biodegradable and stays in the environment for a long time even after they are discarded. The flexibility in packaging although not completely eliminating, but definitely reducing the issues like over-packaging.
Every year La Crevette du Nord Atlantique Inc. processes nearly 13 million pounds of shrimps. The northern shrimps are harvested from the Gaspé Peninsula and then put in isothermal bins covered with ice. These boxes are then sent to a processing plant in the nearby village where shrimps are put on conveyor belts for cleaning. Then the shrimps are sent to the central convection oven to cook. The cooked shrimp is then peeled, sent to an automated sorter, and then go through visual inspection. The shrimp are frozen using cold air. Finally, the frozen shrimps are sent to the packaging center where the shrimps are packed in 200 g to 2.27 kg packets.
The problems with shrimp processing are the development of unpleasant odors and dehydration. When the temperature is not low enough, the shrimps start to develop an unpleasant odor. To prevent this, Caravelle shrimps are processed using Individual Quick Freezing (IQF) technology. The IQF technique requires freezing individual pieces of shrimps at extremely low temperatures. IQF technique also reduces the dehydration of shrimps significantly.
About 65% of shrimp biomass (head and shell) is not used for meat and gets wasted. To make use of this unused biomass, La Crevette du Nord Atlantique Inc. founded an affiliated company in 2013- Les Poudres Marines du St-Laurent. This affiliated company keeps shrimp waste out of landfills by converting it to food-grade shrimp powder.
The Caravelle shrimps are certified by Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) that certifies fishery sustainability. The core principles of MSC fisheries standards are- sustainability of fish stocks, minimal environmental impact, and effective fisheries management. The MSC certification is “open to all fisheries who catch marine or freshwater organisms in the wild” and provides a blue eco-label to seafood products that demonstrate sustainable fishing efforts. However, over the years MSC has attracted criticism from organizations like Greenpeace and WWF. According to critics, the sustainability standard of MSC eco-labeling “has been dropped unacceptably low” and “create a conflict of interest because assessors have a financial incentive in recommending fisheries”. The Netflix documentary ‘Seaspiracy’ called the MSC eco-labeling incompetent and worthless.
The Safe Quality Food (SQF) certifies the quality and safety of the Caravelle shrimps. The SQF program assures its buyers that the food products meet the highest possible safety standards which cover all the stages of the food supply chain from farms to manufacturing, food packaging, and retail.
Adding on that, the Caravelle shrimps are Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) certified. This international standard in “which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement, and handling, to manufacturing, distribution, and consumption of the finished product”. HACCP is popular among customers as it assures the safety and quality of products backed by science and technology.
Caravelle shrimps belong to a family business called La Crevette du Nord Atlantique Inc. located in the Gaspé Peninsula, Québec, Canada. Established in 1980, the mission of La Crevette du Nord Atlantique Inc. is to provide their clients “exceptional quality northern shrimp at competitive prices, that surpass international food safety standards”. Since the establishment of La Crevette du Nord Atlantique Inc., “the production volume has increased fourteen-fold while the workforce has quadrupled.” They believe this growth is not only due to the quality of their products but also the excellent work and cooperation of their employees”. They further add, “to maintain our position as a leader in the northern shrimp processing sector, it is essential to deal fairly with our employees, and remain attentive to the needs of all individuals”. As responsible employers, they commit to the health and safety of their workers. Although they claim to be a responsible employer, without any certification to verify these actions it could just be a claim that is not truly acted upon. Hence, the above statement by La Crevette du Nord Atlantique Inc. cannot be completely trusted.