Paiche or pirarucú. (Photo: Stock File)
Amazonian arapaima is to conquer the world
Thursday, September 12, 2013, 04:00 (GMT + 9)
The Amazon region is conquering international markets thanks to the paiche or arapaima (Arapaima gigas), a freshwater fish that can grow up to three metres and weigh 180 kilograms.
The arapaima, which is the largest freshwater fish in the world, is very appreciated due to the texture and flavor of the meat and its fatty acid high content.
In 2006 in Peru, the company Hochschild began a project for environmental and social responsibility purposes, which involved the development of a fish farm specialized in paiche rearing.
From this initiative the company Amazone was created, and it now is self-sustained and exports the resource to the major markets in the world.
In 2008 the company started to carry out experimental fattening of paiche in Yurimaguas and in 2010 it started exporting to Europe and the United States, Gustavo Sakata, Amazone operations manager, told Gestion.
In just three years, the exported volume grew from about 200 kg to about 60 tonnes, despite the economic difficulties in these markets.
Amazone's main customers are gourmet restaurants and important supermarket chains.
One of the main allies of Amazone is Artisan Fish, a company based in Florida, US, which markets and promotes natural and sustainable products and that provides paiche to the US largest supermarket chain offering organic products: Whole Foods Market.
In the store located in Manhattan, the pound of paiche is sold for USD 15.
While Adrian Burstein, Artisan Fish CEO and founder, states there is a niche in the American market that is willing to pay an additional cost for 'sustainable' food, both he and the manager of Amazone, Isaac Gershon, argue that the promotion of Peruvian products requires a Herculean effort.
Therefore, Burstein and the chef José Duarte actively participate in trade fairs, road shows and stay in contact with consumers.
In Peru, the arapaima is among the lower reaches of the rivers Napo, Putumayo, Marañon, Pastaza and Ucayali, with plenty in the Pacaya-Samiria reserve.
The government imposes bans on the resource fishing, from October to February of the following year in order to protect its population.
- Paiche farming intended to be encouraged
By Analia Murias