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Live lobster: value creation throughout the value chain

27.11.2019

Royal Greenland officially opened its live lobster facility with an event at the factory in New Habour, Newfoundland on September 18th. The facility is the first of its kind in Newfoundland and will enable the company to provide live Newfoundland lobster to global markets on a year round basis.

Royal Greenland’s new lobster facility in New Harbour began production on May 1st 2019 and is part of a larger strategy to bring the Newfoundland lobster to customers around the world. In combination with valuable learnings from the first lobster season for Royal Greenland, the opening of the new facility will ensure a steady supply of high-quality lobster year round with a long-term storage unit designed to hold up to 150.000 pounds of hibernating lobsters.

Technology facilitates optimal storage conditions

The event on September 18th was an opportunity to showcase the facility and introduce the latest technologies for live lobster holding to those in attendance. The facility includes the most advanced technologies designed to maximize the quality of live lobster, which will provide Royal Greenland with an advantage over competitors.

Our solution is for the future

Simon Jarding, Royal Greenland’s Managing Director of Quin-Sea Fisheries

“We have chosen a water treatment system of high quality, which enables a higher degree of recirculation, stable low water temperatures, high oxygenation and thorough cleaning of impurities from the water. This creates an excellent environment to hold live lobster” Simon Jarding, Royal Greenland’s Managing Director of Quin-Sea Fisheries, said at the opening. “With our emphasis on the technological solution we ensure becoming a preferred quality supplier when bringing the larger and hard shelled Newfoundland Lobster to the market place - our solution is for the future”.

The Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources, Gerry Byrne, was also present for the official opening.

“Quin-Sea Fisheries’ approach will put the province on the seafood market map. We are normally market takers and not market makers, and often price takers, not price makers. What this enables us to do is to be able to market the product at times when it is most lucrative to do so outside the traditional lobster season, and create a truly Newfoundland brand of lobster,” Minister Byrne said.

Hands on learnings and a desire to grow

Royal Greenland began processing lobsters in 2018, and with some key learnings from the first season, the desire to expand began with a need for a more controlled flow and more storage, which lead to the purchase of the factory in New Harbour. Alongside the storage space, the purchase also included an old crab factory, which had been out of production for 3 years.

During the first lobster season, some of the challenges included ensuring sufficient water circulation, stable water temperature and oxygen levels above 95%, which can be tricky when holding lobsters for storage in crates directly in seawater. The old crab factory provided the ideal stage to scale the live lobster flow and construction began in late 2018. The facility began production on May 1st 2019 and during the next year, the plan is to expand the long-term storage capacity for lobsters from 150.000 pounds to 400.000 pounds.

“As much as we enjoy and celebrate that our first phase has been successfully implemented, we are already in preparation for Phase 2 development at the live lobster facility in 2020. We plan to engage with a selected group of customers that are particularly interested in the lively larger and hard shelled Lobster from Newfoundland”, Simon Jarding concludes.

Fishing for Newfoundland hard shell lobsters

Newfoundland is known for the hard shell lobsters that on average hold more meat than soft shell lobsters. The season runs from late April to late June, whereafter most lobsters go to soft shell and become emaciated. This results in less firmer meat and lesser meat in general, while the lobster grows a new exoskeleton.

The lobster fishery is characterized as a very gentle fishery, where fishermen catch the lobsters with traps. The lobsters are landed ashore, where Royal Greenland provides crates for storage directly in the seawater. From there, the lobsters are transported by truck to New Harbour, where the lobsters are sorted into 100-pound crates and put into controlled environments, where the oxygen level is constantly at 103%.

The following day, the lobsters are sorted. Based on size and a blood protein sample (ideally with a protein between 9 and 13 mg), each lobster is evaluated for one of 3 possible options: Small lobsters are sent to Conche to boil, some are frozen in Southern Harbour and some are suited for long term storage at New Harbour.    

Lobsters approved for long-term storage are placed in individual crates to minimize bumps and scaring from other lobsters and are kept at a stable 1 degree with a continuous water flow and oxygen level, where the conditions for hibernation are optimal.  

The factory in New Harbour is approved by Air Transportation Canada for products fit to travel with passenger airplanes. The certificate enables Royal Greenland to easily deliver live lobster to customers worldwide on the market for high-quality lobsters.

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