It may be a cliche, but in America, size matters. We have been told that bigger is always better. But is that actually true?
Webster's dictionary states that "shrimp" can be used to replace the terms diminutive, dwarf, midget, mite, peewee, pygmy, runt. There is no doubt that "shrimp" generally refer to something small. So if shrimp are supposed to be small, why the obsession with big shrimp? It is all about marketing!
When you purchase shrimp, the price of the shrimp is usually 100% dependent on the size of the shrimp. Larger shrimp are more expensive. This reflects a relative scarcity for larger shrimp. But just because a shrimp is larger, does that make it better? There is no question that a large shrimp looks beautiful, but other then the looks, does it actually taste better?
When you buy a steak, do you care how big the cow was? No. You care about that melt in your mouth tenderness. How about a piece of fish, you get a nice filet of salmon, does it matter whether the salmon was 5 pounds or 20 pounds? Nope, all you really care about is how good the salmon tastes.
When we launched Sun Shrimp, our goal was to produce 1) the best tasting, 2) most wholesome and 3) sustainable shrimp possible in America. Size was never a concern.
First, let's address the taste question. It turns out that bigger is NOT better. the larger the shrimp, the older it is. The older it is, the tougher and more iodine-y the shrimp tastes. Smaller younger shrimp are sweeter and more tender. At Sun Shrimp we target a Large to Jumbo sized shrimp. Shrimp are usually about 6 months old when they reach this size and usually this is right before they become sexually mature; and in our opinion this then starts to change the taste. Sun Shrimp taste so great because they are young and sweet, not old and chewy.
When it comes to wholesome, young shrimp are voracious growers. They are very active and strong. Just like children that grow up quickly until their teenage years, but once they become young adults, they stop growing.
Even though the shrimp's growth slows down in adulthood, just like humans, they still need to eat. This increases their cost, but also when they age, they lose some of their strength and ability to handle stress. Just like a young person is able to handle stress, older persons as well as shrimp, are much more susceptible to diseases. We do not use any medicines or lotions and potions to treat our shrimp in their old age. We prefer to keep our shrimp young and healthy. As soon as their growth slows, it is time to harvest, before problems start occurring.
This brings us to sustainable. If you are growing shrimp that are old and more likely to die, big shrimp that are much more susceptible to stress and disease, then you will have to provide many more inputs to keep them alive. More energy, more feed, possible medicines and more time make larger shrimp simply not as sustainable as younger shrimp.
Only in the shrimp industry do we seem to gauge a shrimp's value on its size or age? This makes no sense to us. When was the last time you had an old chicken, or an old piece of meat? We enjoy young and tender meats, and shrimp are exactly the same way.
This is why we offer Large and Jumbo Sized shrimp only.
Many customers started asking for the size count of the shrimp, and predictably, many thought that bigger is better. They wanted the largest shrimp available. We cannot really blame them. They were always told by the shrimp industry that bigger is better.
In fact one of the main reasons why most American's commodity shrimp are "treated" with a whole bunch of chemicals, dips, preservatives and glazes is to help the shrimp increase its count size. When you are able to add a 5% to 10% water weight to a container load of shrimp, you can create an additional weight of 4,000 pounds on each container! That's a lot of money. It may be nice to be able to charge more for the larger shrimp, but what is the use of having a shrimp that has been made heavier with water or chemicals. That is why shrimp that look large in the store shrivel up to a much smaller size once cooked; plus they just do not taste great.
We do not play these types of games. Our shrimp are the size they are without any adulteration whatsoever. Many customers who try Sun Shrimp discover that our large and Jumbo shrimp have an incredible taste, were easy to prepare, and were actually the perfect size for eating in one or two bites. Who needs colossal shrimp when they simply do not taste as good?
As far as the shrimp sizing goes, we did not just make up the sizes, we are using the US Federal Government standard grading chart for shrimp. Please see the size classes below.
We have given a great deal of thought in how to culture the best tasting, most nutritious, wholesome and sustainable shrimp available in the US today. Sun Shrimp are perfectly sized. Once you have had Sun Shrimp, the next time someone tries to impress you with a colossal shrimp, try to taste them without the sauce, the taste will shock you. Tell them, if they really want to impress you, that they should be using Sun Shrimp.