A Pack Atmosphere Support System for Live Crabs/Shellfish Species During Road Transported and Air-freighted Distribution (RD095)


This project aims to develop an atmosphere support system for use in the deployment of live export of UK crustaceans to international markets. The packaging will be designed to maintain an optimal atmosphere for species in long-haul journeys, thus minimising stress and mortality of crabs and shellfish.

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Project Summary:

The project aim is the development of a pack atmosphere support system for deployment during the live export, from the UK, of crabs and other shellfish species, during air-freighted distribution to markets in China.

For export, crabs/shellfish are pre-conditioned by gradual cooling then packed in expanded polystyrene (EPS) containers with tape-sealed lids.

Road transport to departure airports is under temperature controlled conditions, which are, however, not then available for the remainder of the journey, the latter generally about 36 hours in total, but can be prolonged by delays.

While air-side and in-flight, temperatures in the containers gradually rise with a resultant increase in the respiration rate of the crabs/shellfish, reducing pack atmosphere oxygen levels and increasing those of carbon dioxide; changes, which if significant, will cause stress and may become critical, resulting on arrival, in mortality or reduced vitality, with consequent wastage and commercial losses.

To counter this problem, specifically designed, rapid acting, oxygen releasing/carbon dioxide absorbing, active packaging inclusions, will be deployed within distribution containers to compensate for adverse changes in pack atmosphere composition. 

To optimise the efficacy of the inclusions, the project will, through the service of an independent third party academic body, monitor their performance in deployment by reference to the respiratory physiology and stress hormone levels of the Crustacea species involved. This will inform any modification of the inclusions required to achieve the optimum gas composition within the headspace atmospheres of the containers, during long-haul, air-freighted distribution.

STATUS: Ongoing

Project Lead

The Blue Sea Food Company