Americans eat more shrimp than any other seafood! According to the National Fisheries Institute, the average American ate 4.4 pounds of shrimp in 2017. It’s a smart choice for folks looking for high quality, delicious protein. In fact, 95% of the calories in shrimp come from protein! Have you ever wondered how shrimp are raised and what a shrimp farm looks like? Here’s a behind the scenes tour of BMR Group in India where we are proud to source our shrimp. BMR has earned the Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) 4-star certification and is a completely vertically-integrated operation.
BMR starts with hardy and disease-free shrimp broodstock (the mammas and pappas) bred at research centers right here in the United States, and shipped to India. There they lay millions of eggs in a hatchery. The eggs hatch into tiny nauplii, and go through two more stages, zoea and mysis, before they start to look like little shrimp. They’ll stay in the hatchery for about two more weeks where they nibble on algae, phytoplankton, and probiotics and grow like crazy in their indoor tanks. When they are big enough, they are counted and sent off to the salt water ponds to continue growing.
These ponds, filled with clean ocean water, give the shrimp space to grow. The water flows through the ponds, and is filtered on the other side before being returned to the ocean
In the ponds, the shrimp are fed a carefully formulated diet. BMR Group operates their own feedmill, which allows them to have complete control over the sourcing of the ingredients to ensure that they are non-GMO and from sustainable sources. BMR’s feedmill creates the shrimp’s food by combining a dozen ingredients and the finished feed looks a lot like the fish food you’d feed your goldfish at home.
Farmers routinely pull up test pots of shrimp from the ponds, to check their growth and health. The water has algae growing in it which not only provides a natural food for the shrimp, and also helps the shrimp feel safe and hidden from birds and other predators.
When the shrimp reach the right size, they are harvested with nets and moved on ice to the processing facility. There the shrimp are tested for disease, environmental contaminants, and antibiotics, to ensure they meet BMR Group’s zero tolerance policy and strict standards. Once cleared, the shrimp are sorted by size, and prepared to order, such as peeling, deveining or removing tails and of course freezing!
Although we normally like to source as close to home as possible, we were exceedingly impressed by the scale of the social impact that BMR Group has had in their community in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh, India. They operate in an area that used to be rice paddies. There is very little margin in rice, and much better margins on shrimp. When BMR took over and started growing shrimp instead of rice, they were able to both dramatically increase the wages and hire more people. Women especially benefited for the increase need for workers and all have benefited from working in more technical and skilled labor jobs, which provide more career path opportunities. BMR has also put wells and water treatment facilities in the villages around the shrimp farms, sponsored health care clinics, and is loved and respected in the community.
Amazing the positive change that can be made by a little shrimp!