A heavy hitter is joining Minnesota's shrimp business

Southwestern MN might start to produce millions of shrimp
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To some of us it still seems weird to think of Minnesota becoming a shrimp capital of the United States. 

But now the company that's been working toward that goal is taking on a partner with even deeper pockets to make sure it happens. The trū Shrimp Company said Monday that Schwan's has joined it in a partnership to launch its inland shrimp idea.

Schwan's is a family-owned business that started in Marshall in the '50's and has turned its home deliveries of frozen foods into a $3 billion multinational food corporation

The trū Shrimp Company is a subsidiary of Ralco, another family-run business based in southwestern Minnesota that now sells livestock feed in 20 countries. 

Monday's announcement gave no specifics about how much Schwan's is investing in the shrimp project, but called it "significant" and described their work as a strategic partnership.

The shrimp idea

The trū Shrimp Company has been planning its dive into the shrimp market for a couple of years

CEO Michael Ziebell has pointed out that most of the shrimp Americans eat is raised on farms, not in the ocean. And at least 80 percent of it is imported from Asia. "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," he said in June. 

That's when trū Shrimp announced their plan is to establish a hatchery in Marshall and build a $50 million plant in Luverne (another southwestern Minnesota town) where the shrimp will be raised. 

Now that Schwan's is on board, a third facility is in the works. The companies say a space in a Marshall industrial park that belongs to Schwan's will become trū Shrimp's processing and packaging plant. 

Schwan's CEO Dimitrios Smyrnios said in Monday's statement his company has been watching the progress trū Shrimp is making. "(W)e are intrigued and excited about the possibilities of in-land shrimp production and view this as an excellent opportunity to provide consumers with a predictable and traceable supply of nutritious shrimp,” he said.

The trū Shrimp Company has pointed to a Consumer Reports letter to Congress saying much of the imported shrimp Americans eat is contaminated with harmful bacteria or antibacterial residue. 

The consumer watchdog group argues more needs to be done to make sure shrimp is safe – and trū Shrimp says its Minnesota product would accomplish that. Ziebell says the company plans to produce 8 million pounds a year.

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