Press "Enter" to skip to content

Tru Shrimp, False Hopes? Minnesota Crustacean Cropper Pitches Smaller Plant

An ad on KELO-TV’s website takes me to “sponsored content” from Tru Shrimp… which I’m starting to think leaves the “e” off its name to avoid being sued for false advertising.

Over two years ago, Tru Shrimp of Balaton, Minnesota, got all sorts of taxpayer handouts to build a shrimp factory in Madison, South Dakota. With promises to start building in June 2019 and putting shrimp on our barbies by now, Tru Shrimp maxed out Madison’s bonding capacity got the city council to move a planned water tower. But two years of sales pitches haven’t drummed up the capital the company needs to turn dirt and hatch crustaceans in Madison. Tru Shrimp blames coronavirus for slowing down their investor pitch events (which is baloney, of course, because Kristi Noem kept us open for business, right?) and drying up shrimp demand (which… yeah, true at first, because people didn’t eat out or cater big events, but U.S. imports and consumer demand for frozen shrimp went up).

But after telling us 2019 that they were slowed down because they expanded their plans, Tru Shrimp buys propaganda space on KELO-TV to tell us they are scaling down their project to appeal to investors:

In an effort to expedite the construction of the Madison Bay Harbor, trū Shrimp is introducing a revised model that will feature 36 Tidal Basins, a smaller scale facility than originally planned.  This will allow trū Shrimp to reduce the costs for the plant by over $200 million.

…Accredited investors interested in pursuing opportunities with trū Shrimp are invited to attend the trū Shrimp Investment Opportunity Event, Thursday, May 6th at the Goss Opera House in Watertown, South Dakota.  To attend or learn more visit [Tru Shrimp, sponsored content, KELO-TV, 2021.05.04].

Reducing costs by $200 million? I must have missed a negative sign—in February, Todd Epp reported that Tru Shrimp was scaling down its Madison Bay Harbor project to “$100 million, two-thirds of the original facility’s cost.” But in August 2019, Eve Fisher pegged the price tag at $350 million, and an August 2020 blurb indicated that the company planned to spend $331 million on the Madison project.

In addition to Thursday’s Watertown event, Tru Shrimp’s RSVP site lists four online investor huddles (one done April 19, others coming tomorrow, May 18, and June 3) and face-to-face fish stories today in Sioux Center, Iowa, and May 25 in Sioux Falls. Bring your hip waders….

Tru Shrimp, information on proposed Madison Bay Harbor shrimp farm, screen cap from company website, 2021.05.04.
Tru Shrimp, information on proposed Madison Bay Harbor shrimp farm, screen cap from company website, 2021.05.04.

Distantly Related Reading: According to Bob Rosenberry of Shrimp News International reports that shrimp is good for dogs—just keep the servings down to one half to one shrimp a day for small dogs and one to two shrimp a day for medium dogs, and remove the shells and tails!


  1. Donald Pay 2021-05-04 08:26

    Maybe the threat of mock shrimp is scaring off capital. The cultured meat rage is heading to the seafood market as a new Madison company, Madison in Wisconsin, that is, has raked in a lot of dollars to simulate lobster, minus the shell and innards. The linked article seems to imply that mock shrimp maybe not be on the horizon due to the cheapness of farmed shrimp.

  2. Loren 2021-05-04 09:17

    Why not just call it “Trump Shrimp,” declare bankruptcy and be done with it?

  3. sx123 2021-05-04 09:40

    I also am starting a $500 million shrimp grow operation in SD. What town will give me money, tax breaks, and free land to setup shop?

  4. jake 2021-05-04 10:34

    sx-ya gotta have that “Trump Shrump” gift of “con”!

  5. Eve Fisher 2021-05-04 10:42

    It’s nice to see that the boondoggle continues. I notice that the Tru-Shrimp people haven’t mentioned that so far they haven’t produced any shrimp (other than the 4-5 Dark Ally and I saw in the tank back in 2019). Anywhere. They claim to have served up a few pounds of shrimp to the people of Balaton – but no proof that the mysterious hidden tanks produced any of it. But if you want to lose money (and perhaps rack up a capital gains loss in the process), you can hardly do better than invest in Tru-Shrimp!

  6. Daniel Buresh 2021-05-04 11:55

    As someone who supports this project, I feel the need to speak up and clarify some things.

    First off, the aquaculture industry is booming as we deplete our oceans and find more sustainable ways to acquire seafood. I don’t think there is any argument about where our seafood production is headed. With that will come some serious expenses to determine the best way to do it while providing a food source that is reasonably priced to consumers. American’s will want sustainable seafood and they will want accountability to know where they came from.

    Second, Tru Shrimp is no Global Aquaponics. Global Auqaponics was run by a con-artist who was accepting investor’s dollars and not doing anything. Tru Shrimp has established a facility and has received many patents that will ultimately revolutionize the aquaculture community, especially as it pertains to growing shrimp in tanks. I have toured the facility and reviewed their progress as they have cut the shrimp growth time by 30% the last I heard. They are looking to increase rotations to produce more shrimp in less time to bring down the costs. They are also maximizing the use of the shrimp by-products to further offset production costs. Things such as band-aids and other medical equipment utilize the shells of shrimp. Not only are they advancing shrimp growth technology, but they are researching how it could be applied to other seafood and crustaceans.

    Third, onto the building issues. The state of MN killed the shrimp facility for Luverne. MN measures contaminants differently than surrounding states and would have required more water treatment. The reason to move was obvious. Madison was just bad timing with the coronavirus pandemic. Investors tightened their wallets and the current buyers of their shrimp were shut down. I even purchased a case of the shrimp when they could no longer sell it to the restaurants that were sourcing it from them. It was very delicious and I still have some in my freezer if you want me to prove they are producing. Each package has a code that tracks it right back to the production tank and harvest date. These shrimp are not the variety that will be mass marketed initially, because the costs will remain high for a period of time. Your variety of shrimp in the store that may have been raised in a contaminated pond or sourced from depleted waters(who knows because seafood sourcing can be pretty shady and its not tracked well) so Tru Shrimp is currently too expensive to compete at that level unless people are really aware and concerned about where they are getting their food. Think organic versus everything else. These are the cleanest shrimp on the planet, hands down. Even with the current higher costs, companies backing them like Ralco and Schwans know what the future looks like and they are making a sure-bet in my opinion on where seafood production is headed. The high end restaurant industry was their best sales bet with their current cost structure and that all came to a halt when MN shut down their restaurants.

    Delays may continue to happen, but i have no doubt that this is where the future of aquaculture is headed and considering the number of advances they have made, I’ll keep betting on that horse. It’s better for the environment and cleaner for us to consume. I have no problem paying a little more to know my shrimp were sourced responsibly and I believe that won’t be an issue as they continue to optimize production and bring their costs down.

  7. Jay Gilbertson 2021-05-04 13:19

    The State of Minnesota did not “kill” the proposed facility in Luverne. The water quality standards involved were in place long before the development was proposed, something the company should have been aware of before they started planning their facility. What Minnesota did do was let the parties involved know that they would enforce the standards, and not ‘look the other way’ in the name of economic development. If this is viewed as a bad thing by a supporter, then I would suggest re-visiting certain priorities.

  8. Daniel Buresh 2021-05-04 13:58

    I’d rather see Minnesota update their outdated testing procedure to determine if the water quality was truly an issue by determining the specific levels of contaminants and their effects. Their blanket testing is unfair, inaccurate, and outdated. Even with a variance if the levels are higher than MN allows, it is still better for the environment and the consumer short of banning the import of shrimp that is not produced sustainably. It’s a step in the right direction which makes sense for the project to move to a better location and not stop progress in the battle for clean and sustainable seafood.

  9. Mark Anderson 2021-05-04 15:04

    I don’t know Porter, could be a red tide day.

  10. Arlo Blundt 2021-05-04 15:25

    well…good luck to Madison…I would suppose if this technology has a future that investment capital partnerships would get behind it and they would not have to hustle individual investors. Having said that, of such dreams fortunes are made….it appears to be a long shot and the margins in the food industry are brutal, the competition is global. But…as they say on the golf course, “Never up, never in.” If you’ve got a lot of spare change, there is no law against taking a flyer. You’ve gotta love this country.

  11. Donald Pay 2021-05-04 15:36

    I’m interested in why Minnesota’s testing procedure is considered “unfair, inaccurate, and outdated” by Mr. Buresh. Which testing procedures and which parameters are we talking about? How does Minnesota’s testing procedures differ from South Dakota’s testing procedures? I’m not sure if Mr. Buresh is aware, but states can set their own procedures and limits to be more stringent than required by federal agencies. It’s not a matter of updating sometimes, but whether the state prefers a tougher standard than required by federal regulation to assure clean water.

  12. Daniel Buresh 2021-05-04 16:06

    “I’m not sure if Mr. Buresh is aware”

    I’m completely aware which is why I support them leaving MN for SD because I don’t want to see advances in responsible shrimp production be shot down over such a small hurdle. Not only that, but the facilities needed to support the production are located in SD and it makes a better fit. Feed from ag by-products(along with a leader in aquaculture feed, Prairie Aquatech), processing, cold storage(Sioux Falls), distribution(near 29 and 90 and soon Amazon) and now a new chinese food production facility will create another potential buyer. Pair that with Madison’s excess water resources and location, it makes for the perfect spot to start their first harbor. You can do the legwork and research the tests that this plant hinged on and then you can determine for yourself whether they are fair or not compared to neighboring states. Tru Shrimp is still cleaner and healthier than the current sources for America’s shrimp. I believe we should get behind companies that are looking to do better within the industry.

  13. Porter Lansing 2021-05-04 18:00

    Mark is right. The gulf of mexico is a dirty mess and a red tide lasts months. Oil well blow outs on deep water rigs, that spew for months made it pretty nasty. Not as nasty as Thai and Vietnamese aquaculture, though.

    I noted that Royal Red’s are primo but you’ll probably never taste one. There was one, small, summer only, Mom and Pop in the mountains of Colorado that imported them for a specialized clientele who were the owner’s friends, but they went away fifteen years ago.

    It matters little what I think or feel but I dearly love Madison. Much more than my hometown of Watertown.
    Hoping this becomes viable and can overcome the “negativity bias” that stops so much progress in SD.

  14. grudznick 2021-05-04 20:14

    I suspect Mr. Buresh is well aware, Mr. Pay, but are you aware of the new rules going in from the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources about crustaceans from the freshest of waters being dumped into brackish waters in South Dakota, and the impact on our salt marshes and terrestrial zones? These animals, as ugly as they may be, can adapt to salinity changes and can easily live in dumps and sewers and these new rules I am just sure the Department of Agriculture is floating out there will moot the issue.

  15. DaveFN 2021-05-04 20:53

    P.T. Barnum couldn’t have said it better.

  16. Kris Tuttle 2022-02-09 08:04

    Does anyone have any new thoughts on this? I see that this company is going public (or trying to) and doing some other financing. The plan seems to be to continue with the operation and build the plant. I’m in Louisville, KY so not up on what the local situation is.

Comments are closed.