Client Spotlight: trū Shrimp Companies Combine Sustainability and Safety
trū Shrimp is true sustainability. Through its patented Tidal Basin™ technology, the Minnesota-based startup is growing mass quantities of shrimp in a controlled environment with near-zero waste, changing the way shrimp is produced, with the help of Intertek Alchemy.
trū Shrimp is leading the way in sustainable farming by utilizing every part of its shrimp to create three successful products: quality shrimp that is traceable, sustainable, and antibiotic-free, a healthy protein raw material for pet food, and chitosan derived from shrimp shells for use in pharmaceuticals and medical products.
“Nothing is wasted in our processes,” said Andy Easley, trū Shrimp’s director of human resources and government relations. “In addition to complete use of our end-product, our water is recycled, and nothing leaves our facility after our shrimp are harvested. We are reducing water usage, waste byproducts, and our carbon footprint at every turn. It is something that is unique to the industries we compete in.”
trū Shrimp’s technology grows shrimp in a controlled habitat that recreates the natural ocean currents, focusing on reducing stress and creating an environment where shrimp can thrive — enabling them to grow shrimp more effectively than conventional pond methods. In addition, the shallow water allows for vertical farming, requiring less space to produce more shrimp.
But even with trū Shrimp’s technology, nothing is possible without its employees, which creates a challenge for a company operating in a part of the country that few people associate with shrimping.
“Being a company in Balaton, Minnesota, I can’t go down the road to the neighbor harbor and hire people who know anything about growing shrimp,” Easley said. “That poses some challenges. But it also creates a terrific opportunity to train employees the way we want to meet our culture and operational objectives.”
Embedding Safety into Their Culture
Unlike other food manufacturing environments where food and workplace safety training may have to be “bolted on” to existing processes and practices, trū Shrimp has been able to embed training as part of its culture. Intertek Alchemy has been at the center of this culture for more than two years with leadership training courses, product and safety training through Alchemy Coach, and the recent addition of Alchemy Playbook.
“With Intertek Alchemy, our safety performance has been outstanding,” Easley said. “As a startup, we’ve used Intertek Alchemy training to help create the culture we want early on, whether it’s workplace behavior and values, diversity and inclusion, employee safety, product safety, or leadership training.”
Intertek Alchemy is helping trū Shrimp meet food and safety regulations and expediting audits by enabling the company to know and demonstrate employee training histories. Easley said he has used Alchemy on several occasions to pull up employee records quickly for auditors to inspect.
The company used Zosi Learning to develop HACCP plans for its pet food ingredients and train employees to become certified HACCP trainers. Easley applauds Intertek Alchemy for its customizable training that fits the company’s specific needs, whether it is HACCP or standard operating procedures (SOPs) around individual stations, which is where Playbook comes in.
Easley said Playbook is making training more effective and efficient to use it anywhere and at any time on distinct types of jobs and equipment at their pilot production site, which they refer to as “The Reef.”
“Our employees do a lot of different jobs like swapping out pumps or using skimmers to collect shrimp molts. Some of these jobs may be new to different employees,” he said. “We are using Playbook to develop training materials to train them how to do those jobs. So, the person could be in the Reef with their iPad, and they could call up that training, walk through the job, and see it being done versus just reading it in a written document.”
Playbook simplifies equipment and process training so that trū Shrimp can quickly train part-time employees, including several people from a local group that places workers with disabilities. Although they are part-time, these employees undergo trū Shrimp’s complete training, including food safety procedures, PPE usage, and safety measures to prevent back injuries.
The ability to quickly train new employees helps trū Shrimp rapidly scale its business when needed, ensuring that everyone has the complete picture of the company’s food and safety culture. More important, he said, employees are engaged and capable of fulfilling multiple tasks.
“We know that Intertek Alchemy and products like Playbook can make us more efficient,” Easley said. “So, we want to build that in from the very beginning. It can really help employees quickly learn and perform tasks correctly and safely and gives us flexibility as systems and processes change. And that is why we are embedding Intertek Alchemy deep in our food and workplace safety culture.”