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New Zealand Greenshell mussel powder for sustainably produced protein
Aquaculture New Zealand

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A sustainable superfood: How New Zealand’s native mussels are emerging as a sought-after nutraceutical treatment

Over 50 years ago, in the pristine waters of a small island nation in the Southwestern Pacific Ocean, innovative Kiwis started experimenting with farming green-lipped mussels Perna canaliculus, a bivalve mollusc indigenous to New Zealand.

Fast forward to today and this unique species known as Greenshell™ is commercially farmed and exported to over 75 countries around the world in the form of food and nutraceutical products for both humans and pets.

Greenshell™ mussels are unique to New Zealand and are exclusively farmed in the coastal waters around the country. The industry is relatively small, harvesting about 90,000 tons of mussels per year and many of the New Zealand powder producers also own mussel farms. Through this vertical integration and connections within the industry, full traceability from mussel spat to powder is also critical for the country’s reputation as trusted suppliers of ethically produced powder.

Shellfish aquaculture is considered one of the most sustainable forms of protein production on the planet. Mussels, being filter feeders, don't need additional feed input. In fact, they enhance water clarity and play crucial roles in coastal ecosystem functions, contributing positively to marine habitats. Add to that, a verified low carbon footprint comparable to tofu, and you have yourself a traceable, sustainable superfood!1

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Scientifically proven health benefits

It’s widely acknowledged and scientifically proven that omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have numerous health benefits and can support healthy aging. The unique lipids (fats) of Greenshell™ Mussel Powder contains these important omega-3s, such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

The active components of Greenshell™ Mussel Powder include this complex profile of unique anti-inflammatory omega-3 PUFAs but also other components such as glycogen, selenium, iron, iodine, phosphorus, niacin, and vitamin B12. This potent bioactivity of Greenshell™ Mussel Powder lipids enhance the nutritional profile and has resulted in Greenshell™ mussel extract products having gained international recognition and increased global demand.

“The potent anti-inflammatory bioactivity of Greenshell™ mussel lipids make it a sought-after nutraceutical treatment for various inflammatory conditions such as arthritis,” says Dr Matt Miller, Cawthron Institute.

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Numerous clinical trials have demonstrated that the natural extract, Greenshell™ Mussel Powder, can support muscle recovery, reduce inflammation and joint pain, protect cartilage, and improve symptoms and functionality in conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.2,3,4​ 

Dr Dominic Lomiwes, a scientist from New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research, affirms: "We know there are multiple benefits to Greenshell™ Mussel Powder, and we are certain that more will be uncovered as research continues."

New Zealand Greenshell™ Mussel Powder: Identifying authentic products

With limited supply and growing global demand for Greenshell™ Mussel Powder, the NZ industry felt it was crucial to introduce a quality mark to clearly identify the genuine, authentic, quality-certified product that can only be sourced from New Zealand. That way, producers aim to minimize the risk of their customers inadvertently buying adulterated or low-quality products.

The lower quality grade is referred to as ‘de-fatted’ and typically has less than 4% lipids – it is essentially a by-product of Greenshell​ mussel oil. This de-fatted powder is usually much lighter and dustier as the lipids and omega-3s have been extracted for the mussel oil product.

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Often buyers are not aware that there are powders available of varying quality. It’s a great selling point to be able to state that a product ‘contains Greenshell™ Mussel Powder' but not all products are equal in quality. It is therefore important that consumers thoroughly check the quantity and quality of the powder they are purchasing.

Consumers have the right to know they are purchasing authentic quality Greenshell™ Mussel Powder that has the full fat and omegas intact, as all clinical studies to date have focused on this high-quality grade powder.

“The reputation and provenance of our products is very important to our industry, and our country. Our farmers work hard every day to produce world class products and build trust with their customers. This quality mark for our Greenshell mussel powder is a further tool to help safeguard this and reduce the risk of possible fraudulent activity in the future,” says Gary Hooper, CE of Aquaculture New Zealand.

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The ‘8+ Lipids’ quality mark on Greenshell™ Mussel Powder confirms the following:

  • Powder contains only authentic New Zealand Greenshell™ Mussel Powder – not blended with other products, and
  • Powder contains a minimum of 8% lipids (at least 8g/100g of lipids/fats)

Through extensive scientific analysis conducted by independent science provider, Cawthron Institute, the industry identified these two criteria as being important to affirm the quality and authenticity of the product for customers and consumers.

Ensuring credibility and compliance

To ensure the credibility and integrity of this program, producers that have voluntarily signed up to the quality program have agreed to maintain records of each batch test conducted by an independent laboratory, proving that their product meets the agreed criteria for this quality mark. As the industry representative body, Aquaculture New Zealand will ensure this compliance.

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An industry that is proud and protective

Māori (indigenous people of New Zealand) have long known the benefits of consuming mussels – known as kūkū, kūtai or kūkūtai in Māori – as these were a staple part of their diet and hold significant cultural value as prized taonga (treasure). The quality mark features a Māori koru design element which symbolizes new beginnings, growth and harmony while serving as a strong indicator of the product’s origin in New Zealand.

New Zealand is proud of its unique and iconic Greenshell™ mussels and is therefore very motivated to protect its reputation and safeguard against potentially fraudulent activities. Be sure you are getting the real deal!

Visit Aquaculture New Zealand​ to find out more about this quality mark.


1. ​Thinkstep-anz. A life cycle assessment of NZ mussels and oysters.
2.​ Miller M.R.; Abshirini, M.; Wolber,F.M.; et al. (2023). Greenshell Mussel Products: A Comprehensive Review of Sustainability, Traditional Use, and Efficacy.​ Sustainability.15(5):3912.
3. ​Lomiwes, D.; Barnes, M.; Shaw, O.; et al. (2023). The Efficacy of New Zealand Greenshell™ Mussel Powder Supplementation in Supporting Muscle Recovery Following Eccentric Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage in Healthy, Untrained Adult Males.​ Nutrients. 2023; 15(10):2316.
4. ​Abshirini, M.; Coad, J.; Wolber, F. M.; et al. (2021). Green-lipped (greenshell™) mussel (Perna canaliculus) extract supplementation in treatment of osteoarthritis: a systematic review.​ Inflammopharmacology, 29(4), 925–938.