New techniques, water project questions factor into tru Shrimp hatchery move

For the tru Shrimp Company, moving the site of its first shrimp hatchery from Marshall to Luverne was a decision affected by factors ranging from new production developments, to upcoming water quality projects in Marshall.

But at the same time, tru Shrimp President and CEO Michael Ziebell said, “Marshall is still very much in our plans.”

Ziebell spoke more on Tuesday about the company’s decision to build a shrimp hatchery in Luverne. Tru Shrimp announced last week that it would build a 42,000 square-foot hatchery at the same campus as its Luverne Bay Harbor. The company had originally planned to build the hatchery in Marshall, and a shrimp production facility — called a harbor — in Luverne.

A major reason for the move, Ziebell said, was a breakthrough in the process for raising shrimp larvae and transferring them to the harbor facility, where they will grow to desired size.

“We thought we had to have a significant physical separation between the hatchery and the harbor,” Ziebell said. “When we started out, we didn’t think they could be in the same city.”

New developments changed that, Ziebell said. While the details of those developments were proprietary, Ziebell said, they meant tru Shrimp could have a hatchery on the same campus as the shrimp harbor. The two facilities could also “somewhat” share the same water reclamation plant, he said.

Other factors also tied in with the decision to build tru Shrimp’s first hatchery in Luverne. The company is already committed to building its first shrimp harbor there, Ziebell said. And factors making Luverne a good location for that harbor included an ample water supply and access to labor.

At the same time, Ziebell said, “Marshall’s our home.” The plan going forward, Ziebell said, would be for tru Shrimp to build its first shrimp hatchery and harbor in Luverne, with future development in Marshall.

Waiting to build a hatchery or harbor facilities in Marshall could be a positive, Ziebell said. Water issues in Marshall could potentially impact tru Shrimp’s production there.

“It isn’t a matter of supply. That seems to be sound,” Ziebell said. But Marshall is planning a project to pre-soften its municipal water, in an effort to cut back on the amount of chlorides discharged from the Marshall wastewater treatment plant. Ziebell said tru Shrimp doesn’t want to jeopardize its local water supplies, so it could be helpful not to start work on a hatchery and harbor before the water treatment issue is resolved.

Tru Shrimp and its parent company Ralco still have a presence in Marshall. Ralco has expanded its office space in Marshall, and Ziebell said tru Shrimp is working with the Schwan’s Company to establish a shrimp processing facility in Marshall. He said tru Shrimp is currently assessing its available food processing facilities.

“We’re also trying to lay out processing lines,” he said.

Ziebell said Marshall and local economic development leaders have been “nothing but cooperative” with tru Shrimp as the company worked to plan and establish facilities in southwest Minnesota.