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French scallops cleaned in China then sent back

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French scallops cleaned in China then sent back
French scallops sent to be cleaned in China before heading back to Brittany. Photo: AFP
17:07 CET+01:00
Scallops pulled out of the waters off the western coast of France are taken on an incredible journey that sees them shipped off to China to be cleaned, before being sent all the way back to France to be cooked up. Producers say its worth the cost.

The old saying about seafood being pulled straight from the sea and served up on your plate does not always ring true.

Next time you eat a scallop, or a "Coquille saint-Jacques" in France, it's worth remembering that there's a chance it's been halfway around the world and back before it ends up in front of your eyes.

Scallops used in ready-made meals by company Celtigel are farmed in Saint-Quay-Portrieux in the north-western department of Brittany.

After leaving the Celtarmor shucking factory, a local business and a work centre for disabled people take over the cleaning of some of the scallops, but millions of them are shipped all the way to China for the procedure and are then transported back to France for further processing and cooking.

"It sounds weird, but it's a matter of cost,” George Brézellec, vice-president of fishing cooperative Cobrenord that owns 40 percent of the Celtarmor factory told Europe 1. “We are on wage differences ranging from one to 100.”

However, Brézellec doesn’t deny that the production process is somewhat insane.

“It’s a bit shocking,” he said. “Like everybody else, I’d prefer it if it were done here." 

Fishermen along with local communities have now taken on the task of finding an alternative to the production step.

"You could create local jobs and avoid shipping the scallops around the world, at the same cost if possible," said Mayor of Saint-Quay, Thierry Simelière.

The work could be assigned to people with disabilities, which would also grant the town European subsidies.

However, 60 percent of the factory are owned by the Le Graët Group and it is yet to be seen whether they would also agree to a relocation.

SEE ALSO: French mussel growers gripped by ongoing crisis

by Simone Flückiger

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