Several farmers like Acuapesca and Iprisco have their own concessions and processing plants. Other companies like Hayduk do not own farms or concessions but do own processing plants which they use for their purchased scallops which they bought from smaller and medium scale farmers. They also offer processing services to other third parties. Moreover, there are some small public processing plants, which only do the primary processing service. In the private production plants, the scallop is processed immediately upon arrival. Companies like Acuapesca and Iprisco have ISO, IFS and BRC certifications. In public processing plants, there is normally a ‘first come first serve’ principle. Therefore, immediate production is not guaranteed, so quality could deteriorate. The majority of public plants do not have any quality certificate yet.
Arriving ‘alive’ to the processing plants, the scallops undergo the primary process: cleaning of the shells and cutting. At this stage, the difference between the bottom and hanging method becomes clear. While the scallops of bottom farming are quite dirty and needing lots of time to be cleaned, scallops from the hanging method only need a quick shower. The cleaned scallops are separated from the shell, put in plastic cubes and prepared for the next stage. Here the work of primary processing plants stops, and the scallops are brought ‘fresh’ to secondary processing plants like Hayduk and ProAnco. Acuapesca and Iprisco have their own primary and secondary processing plant in the same building. The scallops can be cut again (roe off), if necessary treated, frozen IQF, put in the right packing (retail, bulk, etc) and packed in master boxes, labelled and ready for export. Chemical additives like sodium metabisulfate are getting common in Peru’s scallop processing, to prevent spoilage. All bigger companies know how to do it, and experience and expertise increased a lot last years.
Regarding end product, the differences between the bottom and hanging system are not big. Investments in bottom farming are very limited but the harvest (by divers by hand) and the processing (cleaning) process costs more. Investments in hanging pearl nets are much higher, but the costs of harvesting (taking out the complete net out of the water) and processing (almost a clean product) are much lower. At the end, financially there isn’t much a difference. Regarding quality, it might be that the meat rate per scallop is a bit higher with hanging farming, but there are no figures to support this claim. It is true that traceability is much better to control with hanging farming than bottom scallop farming.