Got coctail sauce?

28 01 2013

Last week we got to visit the KAMPI prawn processing factory. It was like Willy Wonka’s factory for shrimp!

At the peak of production in Iceland, there were 27 companies processing shrimp… primarily by hand! Ísafjörður was the first Icelandic town with a factory in 1934. Today there are only 5 factories and there are 40 employees at the Kampi factory.

Since shrimp can be eaten straight out of the package, we go to wear these lovely suits, hair nets, and booties! And we got to see the high risk areas and follow the entire process (eating shrimp at every step).

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The first thing we did after leaving the conference room was put on special shoes, another hat, wash our hands, and sanitize them!

The factory owns 3 boats, Gunnbjörn, Valbjörn , and the factory freezer Isbjörn. These boats cannot supply enough raw material for the factory. There is not eveb enough domestic raw product, so frozen prawns are bought on the market from foreign companies (although it is all marketed as a ‘Product of Iceland’).

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Here come the prawns, to be sorted by size then cooked in 20kg batches. We got to eat a raw one – a female with eggs!

 After cooking, the prawns then get peeled between steel rollers before being tossed around, and then blown so the remaining shell comes off.

The factory processes 5 tons per day! And the conveyer belts are running everywhere: overhead, under you, and right along side.

The factory processes 5 tons per day! And the conveyer belts are running everywhere: overhead, under you, and right along side.

The prawns continue along the line and every single one gets photographed. The rejects get blown back and repeat the peeling process.

This is the final inspection before packaging! The green belt makes it easier to see imperfections... and I think that I almost got a job. It is surprisingly fun!

This is the final inspection before packaging! The green belt makes it easier to see imperfections… and I think that I almost got a job. It is surprisingly fun!

It is amazing, the factory uses 2 tons of water per minute – none of the water can be reused and lucky for the company the water can be discharged untreated! It is so pink you can see it on Google Earth next to the harbor.

Just after the brine glaze is applied. It protects them and turns a 6 day shelf life into 3 months.

Just after inspection the brine glaze is applied. It protects the prawns and turns a 6 day shelf life into 3 months.

The factory mostly sells 5 or 10kg bulk bags and prawns in several sizes. Before being shipped out they go through a metal detector and over a scale. Quality control is very important and tests occur several times per day.

This is an automatic sorting machine that has a series of buckets that weigh out prawns, to the exact specifications of the customer.

This is an automatic sorting machine that has a series of buckets that weigh out prawns, to the exact specifications of the customer.

Only 40% of the prawn is meat, and the remaining is shell and waste. The shell waste is turned into prawn meal. Like most industries in Iceland there is little waste, and this meal turns up in protein shakes and cosmetics. Or you can just buy prawns for your next meal…

Look for Kampi prawns in your supermarket (primarily the UK). They are MSC eco-certified and fairtrade.

Look for Kampi prawns in your supermarket (primarily the UK). They are MSC eco-certified and fairtrade.

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