Appears in
Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Krill the general name for the small shrimplike crustaceans which abound in polar waters, especially Euphausia superba in the Antarctic, and which are eaten in prodigious quantities by whales. In the latter half of the 20th century scientists and technicians, especially in Germany and Russia, have experimented with harvesting krill and producing from it foodstuffs for human beings.

The matter is of some importance because krill have the potential to be a food resource of unusually high quality; the nutritional content, which includes a balanced kit of amino acids and important trace elements, is almost ideal. Moreover, the resource would be a huge one. It was estimated in the 1980s that the annual catch of krill could be greater, in weight, than the whole annual catch of fish worldwide at that time. And it seemed that technical problems had been overcome by the elaboration of processing methods which could be carried out on board ship immediately after the krill (which spoil rapidly) had been caught. They are pressed to yield a juice full of protein. The presscake is set aside for animal feed. The juice is then heated to coagulate the protein, and this is formed into blocks of paste which are frozen. In the former Soviet Union this krill pâté was marketed as ‘Ocean paste’; this was highly nutritious and quite tasty but not a popular success.