Ralco making progress
By Seth Schmidt
Good food and an ambitious vision were served up in ample quantities at the Ralco Technology Center Thursday for the Balaton Chamber of Commerce’s “Business After Hours” session.
Bob Gervais, Ralco’s shrimp operations manager in Balaton, told the informal gathering that Ralco intends to license and build its trūShrimp system “across the globe.” Those efforts could ultimately make “Balaton the shrimp capitol of the world,” Gervais said.
Gervais reviewed the progress that Ralco has made since launching its shrimp production research in Balaton in 2015.
“We’ve had shrimp in the water for about a year and what we’ve learned is tremendous.” What Ralco has learned about growing shrimp, Gervais said, has put the company “light years ahead of anyone else in the industry.”
The shrimp produced by Ralco, he said, have a “superior, consistent flavor,” a “superior texture,” and an attractive blue hue when raw. Ralco shrimp will have the advantage of being antibiotic and disease-free.
The soybean-meal that is a major part of Ralco’s shrimp feed formula provides significant advantages for it is easier to transport tiny hatchlings than it is to truck large quantities of feed.
Attendees at the Balaton Chamber event sampled shrimp produced at the Balaton research facility.
Someday, Gervais said, people will be able to purchase locally produced shrimp.
What’s next for Ralco’s shrimp aspirations?
Once shrimp-growing operations are perfected, several steps will need to be accomplished in close order, Gervais indicates.
The establishment of a hatchery is one near-term priority, so Ralco can exert total quality control over the entire production process from start to finish.
Ralco would also need to select a suitable site, and line up the financing for its first production “harbor.” A 20-25 acre site would be needed for the 1,872,000 square foot facility. The harbor would have the capacity to produce 16,000 lbs. of shrimp daily, or 6.5 million pounds (heads on) of shrimp in a year.
The establishment of a harbor would create an immediate need for a shrimp processing facility, because after starting the production, it only takes 120 days to produce marketable size shrimp.
The Ralco harbor will also need to get federal FDA approval to sell its product.
“We will need to have a lot of balls in the air at once,” Gervais observes.
How soon can all of this be accomplished?
A best-case scenario, Gervais explains, would be for Ralco to break ground on its first harbor next spring.
One factor that Gervais says of SW he’s not concerned about, is training people to grow shrimp.
“We can teach people to raise shrimp.” Midwestern people with a background in raising livestock, Gervais adds, will make ideal job candidates.
Ultimately, Gervais adds, shrimp will become “the pigs of the sea” as a new source of high-quality food for people.
The trūShrimp process will offer consumers many advantages, Gervais explains, because much of the shrimp now available in stores, is grown in large pens in the sea, and is highly susceptible to disease.