An ambitious plan tor sustainable, ready to eat seafood.

We sat down last week for an interview with Andrea Crozzoli, partner and managing director of Cam-evolution, which has entered its third year of business with tidal wave growth and expansion.

In 2014, Cam srl founded Cam-evolution srl, investing in a new facility dedicated to the treatment, transformation and packaging of fresh seafood.  Cam-evolution has created a premium line of fresh seafood ready to cook or heat. Do you think that your products can further stimulate the consumption of seafood despite the fact that many recipes use lesser known seafood?

Andrea explains, “Our idea from the start was to be a service oriented business in the fresh-food sector. Instead of trying to carve out a space in the consolidated frozen prepared seafood category, we thought about how consumers associate premium seafood as a fresh product. They look for quality and taste, ease in preparation, information and proper conservation.  I think all of us look for this in most fresh food products.”

He continues, “The real innovation in this idea lies in our project “No Fish Waste”.  If we were able to take seafood that normally goes unused because the fish is not well known, or too small or difficult to prepare, and use it in our recipes, we would be able not only to create delicious premium products, we would also be able to interest a larger base of consumers who love seafood but don’t have the time or capability to prepare meals from scratch. This extends to busy families and the modern, young urban singles with no time to cook, but with sophisticated tastes.”

In your new facility, there is a state-of-the-art system for the treatment and cleaning of the seafood and avant-garde technologies for the conservation and packaging which serve to lengthen the shelf-life of the products. Is the attention to the research and development of new technologies linked to reducing the waste of seafood?

“In part, yes. We use a system of refrigerated and ionised water to wash the seafood before preparation and packaging. This allows us to realistically lengthen the shelf-life by an average of 20-25%. There are of course advantages for us, but also for distributors and consumers, that have some flexibility to manage or in the case of the latter, to consume the product. This should translate into an additional factor which contributes to reducing wasted seafood.

From our point of view, in the seafood business, the cost of the raw material still represents too high of a percentage in the final cost of the product compared to the cost of transformation, preparation and packaging. By developing, testing and adopting new technologies which aim to prolong shelf-life, we can utilize as much of the raw material as possible. This will eventually lead Cam-evolution to a sustainable, profitable business that sells reasonably priced premium seafood products – a true win-win for distributors and consumers.”

In the future, what do you think could be other solutions and challenges for the seafood industry when it comes to fighting food waste in ready-to-eat products?

“The challenges are coming from several angles. The first, is to find local raw materials which are truly sustainable. Mind you, there are many – above all among lesser known species and also residuals from processing. In both cases, the raw material is super-fresh and top-quality, but with very little market demand. The second is to continuously develop products, not only new products, but above all finding the products with high added value for the consumer. The third is to generate interest, educate and convince consumers to try a product that is quite new to the market. We are working to create a loyal base of customers who are not only convinced by the product’s value, but also believe in the intrinsic qualities of the project and the scope of sustainability. Finally, there is the challenge to work effectively and dynamically with distributors and supermarkets in the differentiation of products based on seasonality, origin, market conditions and the available raw seafood. Personally, I’m a market outsider. When I first started on the business plan, I was bitterly shocked to discover that Italy’s importation of seafood is 10 times the amount that is exported, and that 95% of the species in the Adriatic Sea are in a situation of stress from overfishing. I think that by striving to operate locally and sustainably, we have an incredible opportunity in front of us.”