Colruyt Group kicks off Belgian mussel season

Colruyt Group kicks off Belgian mussel season

First 100% Belgian mussels of the season available from 21 June at Cru, at the eatery Cuit and at several hospitality businesses

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Colruyt Group is getting ready to harvest Belgian mussels from its own sea farm for the second year in a row. This year, the group expects a harvest of 50 tonnes of farmed mussels, eight times more than last summer. Over the past year and a half, they have grown to be wonderfully large and fleshy mussels with a unique taste. This has been confirmed by Belgian chef Sam D’Huyvetter, who sailed out to sea with the sea farm crew to taste the first batch of Belgian mussels. The fact that a top chef is once again supporting this Belgian product sends an important signal. “The sea farm and Belgian mussels are the undeniable result of pioneering work.” The mussels are sold exclusively at Cru, Colruyt Group’s fresh market, and at the Cuit eatery. New this year is that a number of hospitality businesses are also including Belgian mussels on their menus. Delivery is in the capable hands of Solucious, Colruyt Group’s food service specialist. Mussel lovers can enjoy Belgian mussels from Friday 21 June.

The first Belgian mussels of the season are now available. And that’s great news for Belgians, who – with an average annual consumption of 2.5 kilos of mussels1 – live in one of the biggest mussel-eating countries in Europe. Thanks to the efforts of Colruyt Group, we can now also enjoy mussels that are harvested in our very own Belgian North Sea, and not only in the Netherlands, France and Denmark. For the past few years, the group has been growing the common blue mussel (mytilus edulis), whose mussel seed is naturally found in the Belgian part of the North Sea, at a specially developed sea farm off the Belgian coast. Yet we had to wait until last year before this 100% Belgian product could end up on our plates. In the summer of 2023, Colruyt Group harvested a modest 6 tonnes of Belgian mussels for the very first time. The mussels were tasted and sold at Cru, Colruyt Group’s fresh market, and left everyone wanting more. ​ ​

A wonderful whim of mother nature

This year, the Colruyt Group sea farm team is pulling out all the stops to ensure a second successful harvest. The sea farm is an impressive example of innovation, although sea farming – also during the second harvest year – remains exceptionally challenging. The North Sea is a harsh environment, with currents and weather that has a huge impact on mussel growth.

“It is, after all, a natural product, which makes us fully dependent on what the sea provides,” says Stijn Van Hoestenberghe. As Operational Manager of the sea farm, he experiences this first-hand every day at work. “The Belgian North Sea is packed with nutrients that mussels can thrive on. That’s one of the best parts about this product: Belgian mussels need nothing more than mussel ropes to grow. Our mussels get everything they need from the sea. And in doing so, they do a very important job, namely, remove excess plankton from the sea and store CO2 in their shells. On the other hand, they, too, are subject to the whims of mother nature, from waves several metres in height to storms that make sailing impossible. It all sounds quite simple, but everything needs to align perfectly before you can harvest a single mussel,” adds Stijn.

Growth potential

The sea farm is still fully under development. This summer, for instance, extra mussel lines are being installed within the current growing zone, so that even more mussels can be harvested in the years ahead. “Gradual scaling up has been the plan from the very start,” explains Stijn. “There are currently around 30 lines, which we expect to result in 50 tonnes of mussels. Within the current growing zone, we have room to expand to 150 mussel lines.”

In Belgium, the average consumption rate of mussels is around 20,000 tonnes per year. These are still imported, mostly from the Netherlands (around 92% are Zeeland mussels). “The sea farm is nothing short of pioneering work. Considering the fact that this first phase of the sea farm has covered less than 1% of total Belgian mussel consumption, it’s clear that there’s room for growth. And that will be our focus in the years ahead.”

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New this year: Belgian mussels on the menu

The very first Belgian mussels were available for sale last summer at the four Cru markets. They were completely sold out within a record three weeks. For this second harvest year, the Belgian mussels will once again be sold exclusively at Cru. New this year is that a number of restaurants will also be including Belgian mussels on their menus. Via Solucious, Colruyt Group’s food service specialist that currently delivers to a large number of hospitality businesses, the Belgian mussels will be available for ordering at restaurants throughout Belgium. A few familiar names: Bar Bask in Ghent, L’Amandier in Genval, Cafe du Parc in Ostend and De Spelleplekke in Nieuwpoort. And in Nieuwpoort, participants of the sailing race ‘Captains of Industry’ will also be treated to this new Belgian delicacy.

Belgian mussels have already gained a following. Sam D’Huyvetter from Bar Bask in Ghent is now a devotee of this Belgian product and its unique taste. “Belgian mussels have full shells, a smooth and creamy taste, just the right salt balance and a natural spiciness. I’ve already prepared them in various ways, on the stovetop, in the oven, on the barbecue, and they taste fantastic every time. It truly is an amazing product: delicious, innovative and with respect for the terroir. I’m very enthusiastic about the fact that we finally have mussels from Belgium and I see lots of opportunities in terms of product development.”

Win a mussel dinner

Belgian mussels can be tasted by customers for the first time on the evening of Friday 21 June, when steaming mussel pots can be found at three Cuits, the Cru restaurant, and at participating hospitality businesses. On that date, Colruyt Group and its customers will be kicking off the Belgian mussel season in good taste. To make the occasion even more festive, ambassador Sam D’Huyvetter will be manning the cooking pots – or rather mussel pots – at Cuit in Dilbeek. He will be preparing his own mussel recipe for a select group of connoisseurs who have won a seat at the mussels table through a contest. From 22 June, the mussels will be available for purchase at the four Cru markets (Dilbeek, Ghent, Antwerp and Overijse) and on the menu of Cuit and at a few restaurants* all summer long.

Cru will be selling the Belgian mussels for 13.90 euros per kilo. Customers pay 24 euros for a generous portion (1 kilo) of specially prepared mussels with delicious Cru bread.

1 Source: Fisheries Report 2024 (

*Restaurants serving Belgian mussels:

  • Bar Bask in Ghent
  • Mémé Gusta in Ghent
  • Loods 25 in Ghent
  • Café du Parc in Ostende
  • De Spelleplekke in Koksijde
  • L’Amandier in Genval
  • Le Saint-Gilles in Saint-Hubert (Luxemburg, the Ardennes)
  • Les Tilleuls in Ceroux-Mousty
  • Ansiau in Geraardsbergen
  • Bar Boulevard in Geraardsbergen
  • Fenikshof in Grimbergen
  • Scaldiana in Rupelmonde
  • Taverne De Kolonie in As
  • Restaurant Scheldeoord in Hamme
  • d'Hooghe Camere in Sint-Niklaas

Factsheet_Construction sea farm_EN.pdf 96 KB Factsheet_Importance aquaculture_EN.pdf 84 KB