The trū Shrimp Co. announced June 14 that it has signed a letter of intent to locate its first $50 million-plus shrimp production facility, known as Luverne Bay Harbor, in Luverne, Minn.
Trū Shrimp has also issued a letter of intent to locate the first shrimp hatchery, Marshall Cove Hatchery, in Marshall, Minn. The company will also renovate a vacant U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved processing facility in Marshall to prepare the more than 8 million lb. of shrimp that are estimated to be produced by a single harbor annually.
Finally, the company announced that construction of its Balaton Bay Reef training facility will begin this summer in Balaton, Minn. This facility, adjacent to the trū Shrimp Innovation Center & Laboratory, will be used to train personnel to work in the shrimp production harbors.
Construction of the training facility and hatchery and renovation of the processing facility are scheduled to begin yet this year. Groundbreaking for the harbor is scheduled for early 2018.
Michael Ziebell, president and chief executive officer of trū Shrimp, said construction of the facilities in both Marshall and Luverne are a major step toward developing a large-scale shrimp aquaculture industry in Minnesota.
“What is happening in Minnesota has not been done anywhere in the world. We are creating an industry that will supply the world with safe, clean and abundant shrimp. There are 1.6 billion lb. of shrimp consumed annually in the U.S., and 80% of it is imported, largely from Southeast Asia. The facilities in Marshall and Luverne will produce the most natural shrimp possible using a sustainable, antibiotic-free and environmentally responsible approach,” Ziebell said.
“We are often asked why (we want to) raise shrimp in Minnesota, and the answer is because the feed is here. Economically and environmentally, it makes much more sense to raise shrimp near their food source than to ship feed to shrimp raised in coastal ponds thousands of miles from the U.S. market. Until now, the technology to effectively raise shrimp in the Midwest United States on a large scale did not exist; now it does, and we have proven it,” he added.
An economic impact study conducted by the University of Minnesota indicated that construction and operation of the facilities in Marshall and Luverne will provide a major economic boost to the region. The study projected that construction of a single harbor would generate more than $48 million in economic contribution. Construction of the biosecure facility would result in $14.5 million of labor income and support an estimated 330 jobs.
Once the nine-acre structure is built, it will continue to generate an estimated $23 million annually in economic activity and provide employment directly and indirectly for 124 people.
Luverne Mayor Pat Baustian said, “This is a tremendous economic boon for Luverne and southwest Minnesota. ... It’s also going to benefit the larger rural community. I was raised on a farm, my brother farms and I have a lot of friends who are farmers, and we are an agribusiness community. The shrimp are fed primarily soybeans, corn and hard red wheat, which positively affects the bottom line of every farmer in Minnesota.”
Marshall and Balaton will serve as the hub of an advanced shrimp aquaculture industry where shrimp breeding and processing will take place. Sites in Minnesota for additional harbors have been identified. Marshall Economic Development Authority director Cal Brink said becoming the center of a new industry will generate additional high-skilled jobs in Marshall now and well into the future.
“As trū Shrimp continues to grow and develop, Marshall will also grow. It’s a rare opportunity to become the center of a new source of protein production. Immediate construction of the shrimp hatchery and renovation of an existing processing facility is a significant economic driver for Marshall,” Brink said.
Shrimp production is not just about protein; an important biomedical compound called chitosan is created from shrimp shells, and trū Shrimp will be able to provide the medical industry with a dependable raw material supply.
Trū Shrimp is an affiliate of Ralco, a third-generation, family-owned, multinational company with distribution in more than 20 countries. Ralco supports large segments of the livestock, poultry, aquaculture and crop industries.