French oyster lovers to munch on Swedish spats

French oyster lovers to munch on Swedish spats
Swedish oyster farmers are set to help out their struggling French colleagues, whose haul has diminished in recent years, by exporting oysters spats to France for the first time.

Oyster farmers Ostrea, a company on the southwestern coast of Sweden, said on Friday that it was the first time that the French had bought Swedish oysters spats.

“We can’t solve their situation, but we can deliver spats and seeds to France so they can try them out,” Ostrea CEO Karl Johan Smedman told The Local.

The company’s original plan was to sell fully-grown oysters at home but also abroad, but facing demands from their southern colleagues Ostrea decided to also export spats

As soon as the spats have grown to a size of 1.5 centimetres, they will be ready for export. The oysters usually has to grow for another three years until they hit a size of about nine centimetres before they are ready to be eaten,

French newspaper Le Monde reported last year that between 70 to 80 percent of oysters younger than one in France had died every year since 2008, due to a virus.

Marine exploitation expert Jean-Pierre Buad told the paper that the phenomenon affected all oyster areas in the country, with similar trends noted in the British Isles, but also as far as in New Zealand and Australia.

Since 2012, however, the French have also faced sporadic deaths among its adult oysters, which, Le Monde noted, had helped raise oyster farming costs up by 30 percent compared to five years ago.

Swedish company Ostrea cultivates the European flat oyster (Ostrea Edulis), native to the Bohuslän coastline.

“It’s the most appreciated and the most expensive of all oysters,” Svedman said, adding that he ate oysters without sauce or trimmings, and encouraged first-time consumers to do the same to get the full taste experience.

“I think it’s wrong to complicate things with lemon and other stuff, although I respect other people’s choices,” he told The Local.

He said the spats export to France was part of a medium-term aspiration to supply full-grown oysters to the French market. Svedmandeclined to say which French farmers had bought the spats, saying the first batch would provide a trial-run to see how the oysters fared in French waters.

Ann Törnkvist

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