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Shrimp aquaculture: wave of the future.

The U.S. consumer's appetite for shrimp continues to grow rapidly. The per capita consumption of shrimp in 1982 was 1.5 pounds per year and in 1992 it was 2.5 pounds, or a 66 percent increase. This makes shrimp the number one fastest growing seafood in the United States. With the oceans of the world at maximum sustainable yield for wild harvest shrimp, where is the shrimp going to come from to allow for continued consumption growth? Aquaculture -- that is, growing shrimp under controlled pond conditions -- is the answer.

Today in the United States, 30 percent of all shrimp consumption has been grown under controlled conditions in aquaculture ponds around the world. Further, processors of shrimp prefer aquaculture production which allows them to regulate production costs, monitor quality, and product availability. Aquaculture, for the first time, gives the shrimp processors a feeling of stability that there will be a guaranteed supply of quality raw material.

"Shrimp aquaculture truly offers a level of quality control and pricing stability that can't be matched through commercial wild harvest," said Frank Holas, president of Rich-SeaPak Corporation, a leading producer of frozen shrimp products. "Aquaculture allows us to deliver consistently superior product at a very competitive price giving our customers total satisfaction."

The St. Simons Island, Georgia-based processor of seafood and other products recognized the potential of shrimp aquaculture early on and over the past three years has been incorporating aquaculture grown shrimp in its shrimp products whenever possible. Today approximately 50 percent of SeaPak shrimp products are aquaculture produced. Breaded popcorn and marinated shrimp are popular SeaPak products.

SeaPak's strategy is quite simple: Develop strong domestic and international alliances with quality shrimp aquaculture producers to insure a steady supply of quality shrimp for use in SeaPak products. SeaPak works closely with its aquaculture partners in developing improvements which bring about high quality shrimp at lower costs. Currently, SeaPak works directly with aquaculture producers in far away places such as China, Ecuador, and India. "Shrimp aquaculture is truly a global industry," Holas said.

Shrimp aquaculture allows the producers to offer specific sizes to further processors on a predetermined schedule. This type of arrangement allows for less inventory to be required in the system and drives down storage and interest costs.

The seafood industry's first truly new major plant built in the last decade is the $13 million, 100,000 square-foot facility built by Rich-SeaPak Corporation in Brownsville, Texas. This state-of-the-art plant reassures the aquaculture producers around the world that Rich-SeaPak has indeed made a commitment to the future. This new facility is strategically located to accept aquaculture shrimp produced in south Texas and northern Mexico on a fresh basis. SeaPak has developed a proprietary harvesting and transporting method which guarantees top quality. The freshly harvested shrimp is suspended in slush ice which prevents crushing and guarantees freshness.

Rich-SeaPak is poised to satisfy the growing global appetite for shrimp. Aquaculture will guarantee the quality raw material at prices that the consumer can afford.
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Publication:Frozen Food Digest
Date:Oct 1, 1993
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