The North Atlantic cold-water shrimp is remarkable for its bright pink color both before and after cooking.
The North Atlantic cold-water shrimp, Pandalus borealis, is known across the world for its delicate, sweet flavor with a firm and juicy texture to the meat. The cold-water shrimp is a great source of protein and low in fat, making it a healthy and nutritious delicacy.
Cold-water shrimp products
Cold-water shrimp are sold as a variety of products to meet our customers' needs. The shrimp is cooked with the shell on, or cooked and peeled before being instantly frozen. Cooked and peeled shrimp is also available in brine, or with modified air packaging, as convenient everyday solutions.
Examples of our foodservice range
Cold-water shrimp in the sea
The cold-water shrimp is found throughout the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean, from Canada to Norway. The cold surroundings make the shrimp grow slowly, which provides ideal conditions to fully develop the complex flavor and texture.
The shrimp has an almost translucent red shell, with long, red antennaes at the top of the head. The spherical black eyes are accompanied by a set of two small, jagged horns at the top of the head. From time to time the shrimp’s head may appear slightly darker. The color may be caused by the shrimp’s feed, or it may be developing eggs for spawning. The slightly darker color of the head does not affect flavor or quality.
The shrimp lives near the seabed in soft and muddy benthic conditions at depths of between 20 and 1,400 metres. It prefers water temperatures between 0 and 8°C and feeds mainly on plankton, krill and microscopic worms.
The cold water shrimp lives throughout the Arctic Sea.
The cold-water shrimp is a hermaphrodite and starts life as a male, but turns female after three to four years. When spawning begins in the spring, the eggs are fertilised and the male carries the eggs on its legs until they are ready to hatch. Immediately after the eggs have hatched, the adult shrimp loses its shell and starts to grow a new and larger one. The shrimp bulks up on water to form a slightly larger shell, ensuring space to grow before the next spawning.
The cold-water shrimp has a lifespan of up to nine years. The shrimp is usually caught when it is around six years old and eight to ten centimetres long, compared to farmed warm-water species that are usually fully grown when they are six months old.
Cold-water shrimp can be taken all year round, but fishing is limited by the ice conditions, especially in Ilulissat when the Disko Bay freezes. The shrimp are caught both inshore and offshore.
Inshore shrimp fisheries
Inshore, the cold-water shrimp are caught by local fishermen in small vessels. They fish quite close to the shore, but at great depths, to reach the shrimp’ seabed habitat. The shrimp is caught in a trawl net and hauled on board. Then the shrimp is stored on ice for a maximum of four days, or until the fishermen have filled their on-board storage facilities. The catch is landed at one of Royal Greenland's factories, where the shrimp’s size and appearance are rated prior to processing.
See how the finest shrimp are caught in the Disko Bay area in western Greenland.Time:
In Greenland, all catches of inshore shrimp are cooked and peeled in the land-based factories.
Offshore shrimp fisheries
Offshore fishing for cold-water shrimp is also by trawl, but using much larger vessels and trawls. Royal Greenland operates two seagoing trawlers, Akamalik and Qaqqatsiaq, which fish solely for shrimp. The trawl is lowered several hundred metres onto the seabed, where the shrimp are trapped in the net and hauled on board for processing.
See how the finest shell-on shrimp are caught by our seagoing factory trawlers, far from shore in the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans.Time:
Royal Greenland's trawls are fitted with sorting grids and escape panels that lead any larger fish that have entered the trawl opening back into the sea. Royal Greenland also supports the research and development of less invasive trawling methods with less impact on the seabed and reduced fuel consumption for the fishing vessels.
In Greenland, it is mandatory to land minimum 25 % of the total catch for on-land processing. Our trawlers unload their catch of shrimp to one of our land-based shrimp processing factories in Ilulissat or Sisimiut, where minimum 25 % of the catch is processed into cooked and peeled shrimp.
The fisheries in Western Greenland, Canada and Norway are all certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council and evaluated to be well-managed and supervised via mandatory catch logs.
Most of the shrimp are processed on board, before being sent directly to our customers. At sea, the trawlers Akamalik, Qaqqatsiaq and Nataarnaq process the shrimp immediately after landing their catch. The shrimp are sorted, cooked and quick-frozen within a few hours of leaving the water.
Minimum 25% of the catch from the Greenlandic quota is brought ashore for further processing at Royal Greenland's land-based factories in Greenland.
Shrimp from both inshore and offshore fisheries are landed at the land-based factories. Here, the cold-water shrimp are quality-assessed and size-graded, before entering the production line. The shrimp are then cooked and peeled before they are quick frozen. From the factories, the processed shrimp are either shipped directly to customers around the world, or to our other factories for advanced processing and packaging.
Some of our shrimp pass through our processing facilities in Germany, where they are repacked or brined. A small proportion of the cold-water shrimp are sent to Poland, where they are used as ingredients in ready meals.
At our factory in Cuxhaven, Germany shrimp are repacked
Route to market
After the cold-water shrimp are processed, they are shipped to our customers. Cold-water shrimp are enjoyed across the world, but with differing preferences with regard to the final product. Consumers in the UK are particularly fond of cooked and peeled shrimp, while Sweden has a preference for shell-on shrimp. In Japan, the cold-water shrimp is considered a delicacy and is also known as "Ama ebi", which means sweet shrimp.
Prices for cold-water shrimp have increased in recent years, as the quotas have decreased while demand has remained high.
Cold water shrimp in the kitchen
The cold-water shrimp is consumed throughout the world and is a true delicacy, perfect for the entire family. The shrimp is a good source of protein and selenium, low in calories and has a high content of several vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12, zinc and iodine.
Cold water shrimp ready for use in the kitchen
The shrimp has beautiful pink meat and a firm, juicy texture, with a pleasant ocean flavor, a touch of sweetness and a little shellfish bitterness. Cold-water shrimp served shell-on are a crispy bite. The shrimp is versatile and can be enjoyed cold or added at the end of preparing a hot meal, to avoid overcooking and to preserve flavor and moisture. The cold-water shrimp is best served as the main ingredient in a recipe or as a meal in itself, where its complex flavor is not overpowered and can be fully savoured.