With an increasingly affluent world population set to grow to 9 billion by 2050, increasing demand will be placed on global food production systems. In one figure, scientists estimated that more food will need to be grown in the next 100 years than in the last 10,000. At the same time other environmental issues such as soil degradation, warming temperatures and depleted fishing stocks are hampering the systems that usually produce this food.
This places a difficult imbalance between food supply and demand. Anticipating this, a range of businesses have started up to try and innovate new, more efficient means of food production. Wiltshire’s Great British Prawns recently raised £3m in an unannounced deal to do exactly this. Specifically, they will look to grow tropical prawns / shrimp in a sustainable aquaculture system in the Scottish countryside.
What exactly does this solve? Currently, the majority of prawns consumed in the UK are imported. Most imported shrimp has to be transported over 6,000 miles before it reaches British consumers. This has issues in itself with regards to carbon footprinting, but it also requires a lot of resources to maintain freshness. A lot of imported prawns are sourced from tropical fisheries such as Thailand, where reports have emerged of widespread slavery in supply chains. The fisheries themselves are also poorly managed, meaning little consideration is given to sustainable fishing methods, and the effects of these on the surrounding biodiversity-rich ecosystems.
If Great British Prawns are able to bring their systems to market, they will condense the tropical prawn supply chain, cutting out several risky aspects alongside some large transportation costs. It also allows for tropical shrimp to be supplied to restaurants shortly after they are harvested. This could feasibly produce products that undercut the current market prices.