Thai Union pilots satellite technology to advance seafood traceability and sustainability

Figure 1. Aquaculture ponds detected in satellite imagery using Sea Warden’s deep learning object detection algorithm.

Figure 2. Satellite imagery makes it possible to assess historic farm performance and monitor ongoing activity.

BANGKOK – February 17, 2022 – In late 2021, Thai Union began piloting the use of satellite imaging (aka earth observation or remote sensing) for shrimp farming operations in collaboration with Sea Warden (a satellite data analytics company), and Wholechain (a supply chain traceability company). As one of the world’s largest seafood producers, Thai Union seeks to encourage the use of innovative technologies to promote sustainable seafood production. The main goal of the pilot was to generate Key Data Elements (KDEs) for shrimp farms that are automated, independently verifiable and cost effective. Integrated with traceability technology, the KDEs collected through satellite imaging have the potential to support sustainable farming practices through insights into shrimp populations, farm health, contamination and more.

Satellites have imaged the earth for more than 50 years to the benefit of many industries including agriculture, forestry, and wild capture fisheries, but it is still an emerging technology within aquaculture. In recent years, certain KDEs have been promoted widely by sustainability and traceability advocates within the seafood industry to address the lack of data available to importers/retailers/consumers in order to make more responsible purchasing decisions. Sea Warden and Wholechain have worked closely on creating a list of KDEs that cross-reference those attainable through satellite observation with those required by the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST), Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), as well as additional KDEs that represent opportunities for substantiating Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) targets for seafood industry stakeholders.

Thai Union believes aquaculture insights from satellite observation are a promising way to reduce risk and reach sustainability targets – challenging goals for any company sourcing shrimp from many farms and countries. According to Adam Brennan, Group Director of Sustainability for Thai Union,

“Accessing reliable information for shrimp farms across wide geographies can be both challenging and expensive. We see exciting potential in the use of satellite imaging to improve our transparency, assess risk and monitor the performance of our shrimp farms. We will continue to explore ways to use satellite technology as it continues to evolve.”

During the pilot, Sea Warden applied machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques to generate KDEs based on 24 months of historic production activity at multiple shrimp farms within Thai Union’s network (Figures 1 and 2). In a demonstration of the integrated capabilities, Wholechain transferred the KDEs through Thai Union’s supply chain along with the insights report from Sea Warden. Zack Dinh, Sea Warden co-founder, says

‘Satellite-derived KDE’s are a simple and independent way for retailers, certifiers, and processors to provide greater farm-level transparency. Satellite data maximizes investments into traceability systems like Wholechain’s blockchain technology to more effectively reduce risk and increase confidence across the supply chain.’

Thai Union believes satellite-derived aquaculture insights is a promising way to reduce risk, and reach sustainability targets. Thai Union views satellite technology as a route to improving access and efficiency for sharing farm-level data with certification bodies, retailers, and even consumers. Multiple supermarkets are already making plans to utilize these capabilities in their procurement process and also communications with consumers.


About Thai Union

Thai Union Group PCL is the world’s seafood leader, bringing high quality, healthy, tasty and innovative seafood products to customers across the world for more than 40 years.

Today, Thai Union is regarded as one of the world’s leading seafood producers and is one of the largest producers of shelf-stable tuna products with annual sales exceeding THB 132.4 billion (US$ 4.2 billion) and a global workforce of more than 44,000 people who are dedicated to pioneering sustainable, innovative seafood products.

The company’s global brand portfolio includes market-leading international brands such as Chicken of the Sea, John West, Petit Navire, Parmentier, Mareblu, King Oscar, and Rügen Fisch, Thai-leading brands SEALECT, Fisho, Qfresh, Monori, Bellotta and Marvo, and ingredient and supplement brands UniQ™BONE, UniQ™DHA and ZEAvita.

As a company committed to innovation and globally responsible behavior, Thai Union is proud to be a member of the United Nations Global Compact, and a founding participating company of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). In 2015, Thai Union introduced its SeaChange® sustainability strategy. Find out more at seachangesustainability.org. Thai Union’s on-going work on sustainability issues was recognized when the company was listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) for the eighth consecutive year in 2021 and ranked number two in the world on the Food Products Industry Index. Thai Union was also named to the FTSE4Good Emerging Index for the fifth straight year in 2020.

About Sea Warden

Sea Warden addresses critical data gaps within the aquaculture industry by leveraging satellites, AI, and cloud computing to map and monitor global aquaculture activity. We work with industry, governments, and conservation groups to advance the sustainability of farmed seafood. Sea Warden is a Hatch portfolio company and operates from AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles. Find out more at seawarden.io.

About Wholechain

Wholechain is a blockchain-based traceability solution built to enable trust, coordination, and transparency in fragmented supply chains. Wholechain works across commodities, allowing businesses to manage risks and increase efficiencies while enabling consumers to make more responsible decisions. Wholechain is a partner on Mastercard’s blockchain, former winner of the Fish 2.0 Competition at Stanford for Supply Chain Innovation, and winner of the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety Low- or No-Cost Food Traceability Challenge. Find out more at Wholechain.com.