How a Louisiana Firm Processes 4 Million Kilos of Crawfish a 12 months


The trade is pretty new, solely getting into the mainstream within the Eighties as rice farmers started experimenting with cultivating crawfish of their fields.

The experiment paid off and as we speak enterprise is booming, producing $300 million yearly for the state’s financial system and clearing the best way for the following era of farmers like Madison McIntyre.

McIntyre, the founding father of Parish Seafood Wholesale, says his firm handles as much as 4 million kilos of crawfish yearly.

“I by no means imagined it might be to this stage, nor was it our purpose. It sort of simply occurred organically,” McIntyre informed Enterprise Insider.

Crawfish move on a conveyor at Parish Seafood Wholesale

Crawfish transfer on a conveyor at Parish Seafood Wholesale.

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Crawfish, native to the swamps and rice fields within the southeast of North America, are crustaceans associated to lobsters and shrimp.

In September and October, rice farmers in Louisiana flood their fields, forcing the crawfish to come back to the floor for meals. That is when Parish Seafood is available in to catch them utilizing traps.

A Parish Seafood Wholesale order dumps crawfish from a trap into his boat that is controlled with foot pedals.

A rice farmer dumps crawfish from a lure into his boat, which is managed with foot pedals.

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Employees trip via the fields in pedal-controlled boats, the place they shortly seize crawfish traps, dump the crawfish into their boats, and rebait the traps in about seven seconds. The employees have to maneuver shortly to maintain the animals from dying within the intense Louisiana warmth after they’re faraway from the water.

The crawfish are then loaded onto vehicles, which transport them to a crawfish dock to be weighed and put into coolers to guard them from the warmth.

The crawfish are then washed on a conveyor machine that prices $150,000 earlier than they’re positioned again into the coolers.

Crawfish being washed on a conveyor at Parish Seafood Wholesale.

Crawfish being washed on a conveyor at Parish Seafood Wholesale.

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The corporate tries to promote its bigger, high-grade crawfish inside 12 to 24 hours after they’re caught, however the course of will be fickle as a result of the enterprise continues to be largely unregulated.

“It is all just about completed on a handshake. There isn’t any contract,” McIntyre informed BI. “You need to watch out as a result of individuals should purchase all of your crawfish at the start of the season after which as quickly because the catch picks up they’ll go away you and purchase from any individual else.”

The smaller crawfish, McIntyre sells to himself to make use of in his eating places and different merchandise. These crawfish are despatched to a separate manufacturing facility to have their tail meat processed.

The crawfish are first dumped into tanks earlier than they’re washed a second time, then they’re dropped into a big basket that’s dropped into an enormous pot of boiling water.

A Parish Seafood Wholesale worker lowering a basket of crawfish into a vat of boiling water.

A Parish Seafood Wholesale employee decreasing a basket of crawfish right into a vat of boiling water.

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After boiling, the crawfish are taken to a peeling room, the place they’re peeled by hand. Leona Williams, a peeler within the facility, says she has been peeling there for 50 years.

“Realized this from momma on the age of 13,” Williams informed BI. “Get off of faculty, assist my mother typically till one within the morning.”

Williams, who can peel about 40 kilos of crawfish each day, says it’s important to break the top off the crawfish first earlier than pinching the tail to tug out its meat.

“Peel them properly to ensure their veins are out for positive,” Williams stated.

Leona Williams peels crawfish.

Leona Williams peels crawfish.

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The peelers are paid about $2.50 a pound and most should peel “fairly quick” in the event that they need to make sufficient cash to help themselves, Lewis says.

McIntyre says he plans to open one other facility to concentrate on air freight, however his competitors is getting stiff as crawfish farms in Louisiana have greater than doubled since 2000.

Inflation has additionally brought on McIntyre’s prices to soar greater than 40%, with gas alone costing him greater than $150,000 greater than it did in 2022.

A lot of McIntyre’s 60 workers members — about 95% of them — are additionally engaged on visas, and he’s on the hook for his or her housing and transportation. McIntyre pays his workers simply over $14 an hour, double the state’s minimal wage.

Parish Seafood Wholesale noticed about $500,000 in income final yr, whereas McIntyre says he took dwelling a wage of simply $20,000, investing greater than 80% again into the corporate.


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