Soames Flowerree, who started St. Andrews in 2005 at age 33, was born in Chile from American parents, and grew to love his adopted homeland. After being educated in England, he returned to Chile both because of this great love and because of the potential he saw to make a difference there. At the time, there was an opportunity to challenge the dominance of European mussels due to growing demand.
He knew that the unique environment of southern Patagonia of Chile, and in particular, the island of Chiloé, could be perfect for a mussel farm to thrive in harmony with the environment. This means that the St. Andrews “Chorito” or Chilean mussels, which are endemic to Chiloé, deliver very high quality, which has allowed St. Andrews to grow into one of the largest mussel operation in the world.
This quality is a result of the growing environment, the St. Andrews business philosophy and a highly committed workforce. The island is surrounded by the Humboldt Current – one of the most productive ecosystems in the world – which draws cold, pristine, nutrient-rich water directly from Antarctica. For more detailed information, click here.
Soames has also drawn upon the unique social structure of Chiloé in pioneering the first aquaculture operation in Chile. Chilotes (Chiloé native people) are primarily Catholic and descend from generations of fishers and farmers, so they are incredibly connected to their beautiful environment as well as to their fellow islanders. Soames says: “What we are looking for is to be able to be close to our people, to generate a bond with the community, to go to support in difficult times, betting on the growth of our company to generate new sources of work.”
This has resulted in whole extended families joining the St. Andrews workforce, as well as St. Andrews initiatives like supporting local fishing through purchasing spat (mussel young) from local farmers and the seaweed project. In this project, local school children are taught by the St. Andrews team how to harvest the seaweed from mussel farms and produce a seaweed ‘cookie’ to sell to the abalone industry, teaching the children teamwork skills as well as providing them with an income.
Finally, the St Andrews team have also worked hard to create the best quality mussels in a highly sustainable approach, achieving numerous certifications. Click here and then on the ‘sustainability’ tab to learn more.
Soames and the St. Andrews team are very proud of providing the highest quality mussels “from Quemchi to the World”. He says:” Every time I think that our products are in the best restaurants in the world, I am proud to know that we are representing our country, opening new paths in the export of food, where today we arrive with high-quality standards in Eastern Europe, Western Europe, North America, and Asia. ”
For more information about St. Andrews, click here.