CASE STUDY: Musseling into the netting business

We had the pleasure of visiting a new customer’s site in stunning Westport during the summer. A second generation family business, Blackshell Mussel Farm not only grows organic mussels but also manufactures muscle netting.

View of Clew Bay in County Mayo Ireland with mussel lines in it


Plastic bags containing mussel netting in a big pile on the floor of a factory

Mussel netting is used to help young mussels stay on the mussel lines before they are strong enough to hold on themselves, and during rough sea conditions. The netting needs to be designed to degrade just in time for the muscles to be harvested – a difficult balance to achieve.

Blackshell, as well as using mussel netting on their own farm, supplies other mussel farms in Ireland and throughout the world. In a really interesting tour, Louis Molloy showed us around the mussel netting factory.

He explained that export is the big growth potential for this product, so packing density is paramount.

Pallets full of mussel netting packaged on cardboard cores in a factory

Up to now, Blackshell had been packing mussel netting into plastic bags or woven FIBC bags. By investing in machinery that can instead wind the netting onto cardboard cores, the company has doubled the amount of netting they can pack onto pallets, reducing their shipping costs significantly. Cardboard cores, made from recycled board, are also a much more sustainable packaging choice than plastic or woven bags. Furthermore, packing onto cores rather into bags is more efficient in production and easier to manage for end customers. It’s a real win-win solution !

Blackshell’s admirable focus on innovation and the environment doesn’t stop there either. Louis is working on developing an innovative, new mussel netting from a biopolymer, which comes from potatoes grown here in the EU. This is considerably more sustainable than the raw material traditionally used – cotton – which must be imported from Pakistan and Bangladesh.

We look forward to being a partner in their exciting journey !

Thank you Louis, for telling us all about it.

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