Why Our Organic Black Tiger Shrimp Earns Its Stripes
11/04/2020 · Newsroom Highlight
Named for its distinctive striped appearance when cooked, our EU-certified Organic Black Tiger Shrimp, used in all Wegmans frozen organic shrimp offerings, are sourced from a collective of family-run farms in the sustainably managed mangrove forests of southern Vietnam. No chemicals or antibiotics are ever used, and the shrimp feed naturally from their surrounding habitat, just as wild shrimp do. These slower-growing black tiger shrimp taste sweeter and have a snappier bite than any other shrimp.
While searching for organic black tiger shrimp in 2016, our seafood team traveled to Vietnam and personally visited farms and processing facilities. There, they learned that shrimp farming is more than just a job for the families maintaining each pond; it’s a way of life.
“My wife and I have been living on our shrimp farm in the mangrove forest for over 18 years. Operating this farm enables us to maintain a sustainable life,” said Shrimp Farmer Trung Tin. “We have been able to send our eldest son to university in Ho Chi Minh City and our younger son to secondary school. Thanks to the income from shrimp farming, our local community enjoys a stable life.”
Farmers are not only responsible for raising and harvesting the shrimp, they also maintain the mangrove forest. This is essential to the success of the farm as the shrimp feed among the gnarly roots that reach into the water. A portion of the mangrove trees are harvested for timber every 10 years, and then the harvested area is re-planted to restore resources for the next generation.
Farmers harvest shrimp in the mangrove forests of Vietnam.
From Pond to Plate
When the shrimp are ready, harvesting often happens in the pre-dawn hours, and is determined by the local tide and temperature. The shrimp is netted from the pond, immediately put on ice to be sorted, and quickly transported to a collection center near the farms. After initial quality checks, the shrimp is labeled for traceability back to the specific farmer. This information follows the shrimp’s lot code from this point on, all the way to our shelves. The shrimp is then moved to a pristine processing facility where it’s cleaned, peeled, deveined, and packaged before being shipped to Wegmans. This entire journey, from pond to processing, takes only about two hours.
“Our Wegmans team has inspected facilities and observed the shrimp farmers and processors firsthand from start to finish in Vietnam,” said Wegmans Seafood Group Manager Steve Philips. “We regularly visit suppliers near our stores and around the world to evaluate them in person. Wegmans seeks out and supports third-party certifications, but we feel that there is no substitute for boots-on-the-dock learning on behalf of our customers. It’s one of many steps we take before agreeing to offer a new product in our seafood department.”