Freshwater shrimp become a big deal

Dan Kauffman (left) is helping shrimp producers expand their markets through shrimp boils.

Dan Kauffman (left) is helping shrimp producers expand their markets through shrimp boils.

As the freshwater shrimp in his ponds continued to grow and multiply, Charles Carter knew he had a good product to sell.

In his second year of production, Carter wanted to create product buzz in order to sell a portion of his production to local consumers. Carter was already selling his product wholesale as a member of the Virginia Aqua-Farmers Network Cooperative, but he also wanted to market retail.

And he knew just where to look for assistance — Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Enter Dan Kauffman, Extension seafood marketing specialist at the Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Hampton.

Kauffman had been helping freshwater shrimp producers get their products to market, which also involved another part of his résumé — his fondness for shrimp boils.

“There is already a robust marine shrimp market, but people don’t often know about freshwater prawns,” said Kauffman, whose home department in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.

Working with the Virginia Aqua-Farmers Network, he has paired shrimp producers with gourmet supermarkets, restaurants, and local seafood producers. Kauffman finds that one of the best ways to connect to customers is to get them to the farm where shrimp are being raised and have an old-fashioned shrimp boil. Kauffman, along with Extension community viability specialist Martha Walker, helped Carter put on a shrimp boil, which was instrumental in helping him market his product and introduce him to new clients.

Carter’s shrimp boil was a huge success. Two sittings of more than 250 people gobbled up the delicious shrimp that were grown only a few yards away.

Carter said he owes part of his success to Virginia Cooperative Extension.

“They were really a great partner in this entire process,” he said.

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