Shrimp: What to Know

Wild vs. Farm Raised

Wild Shrimp

Over 2000 species of wild shrimp exist but only a few are marketed. Whites, Browns and Pinks are most recognizable. Relative to farm raised shrimp, wild caught shrimp; tend to run larger, have a firmer bite and more pronounced flavor and have harder more durable shell.

Wild Shrimp Species
  • Available in USA waters: SE Atlantic, Eastern Gulf of Mexico and Pacific waters off California and Mexico.
  • Sweet taste
  • USA gulf whites have distinct iodine taste; Mexicans don’t.
  • Wild Mexican whites’ texture similar to cold water lobster
  • Sizes range from U-10 to 31-35 count.
  • Harvested domestically off the coasts of Mexico and the U.S.A.
  • Appear in different colors – off white to reddish brown with tinges of blue or purple on legs and tail.
  • Meat is firm with a mild taste.
  • Domestic gulf browns have pronounced iodine flavor; Mexican browns from Pacific Ocean do not.
  • Very sweet flavor profile.
  • Wild caught; found in greatest abundance on Mexico’s Campeche banks.
  • Deteriorate quickly due to fragile digestive organs; bisulfates are used to slow this process.
  • Cold water Pinks: from Bering Sea, North Sea, Iceland, Russia, Canada and Greenland
  • Much smaller, with sizing at 250 to 350 count
Benefits of Wild Shrimp
  • Flavor - More pronounced than farm raised
  • Price - Can be higher; greater, more frequent price fluctuations
  • Sulfites - Can be treated with sulfites to maintain color/appearance
  • Quality & Consistency - Potential quality issues due to product handling in supply chain

Farm Raised Shrimp

Most farm raised shrimp are from the Far East; Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, India and China. Some are from Latin America; Ecuador and Honduras. The Majority are White or Tiger species Whites range from larger sizes (16–26) in India to mid/smaller sizes (26–51) in Thailand, Indonesia and Ecuador. Tigers can grow to larger sizes (13/15–4/6), but global production reduced due to lower yields in comparison to whites. Farm raised shrimp do not have as much natural flavor as wild shrimp.

Farm Raised Shrimp Species
Black Tiger
  • Fast growing shrimp that produce market size adults in 18 months.
  • Farmed in Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Indonesia
  • Product usually packed and frozen same day it is pulled from pond.
  • Sold raw or cooked, shell on or off, tail on or off
  • Has a mild, sweet flavor and firm texture.
  • Cook faster than Whites, Browns, or Pinks.
Farm Raised White
  • Product of Thailand, China, Indonesia, Ecuador, Mexico, Venezuela, India, Honduras
  • Sizes: large (16/20 – 26/30) in India mid/small (41/50 – 26/30) in Asia and Latin America.
  • Sold raw or cooked, shell-on or off, tail on or of
  • High quality white shrimp should have a bite or snap and a pleasant shrimp taste
Benefits of Farm Raised Shrimp
  • Availability – a year-round industry.
  • Quality - processed shortly after harvest with little risk of decomposition.
  • Consistency - Color, appearance & size of finished product tends to be more consistent than wild shrimp.
  • Price - generally priced lower
Farm Raised Points of Difference
  • Flavor - Can be less flavorful depending on processing techniques, handling etc.
  • Variety - Tiger/White Shrimp are two of most commercially farmed shrimp around world.
  • Size - Large sizes of farm raised white shrimp now commercially available in India.

Shrimp Forms:

Yield Factors

Shrimp lose a size with each step in value addition…

  • Headless Shell On - 16/20
  • Raw P&D T/On - 21/25
  • Cooked P&D - T/On 26/30

…but gains more usable pieces per pound purchased.

  • There is one size loss (per pound) for peeling and cleaning.
  • There is an additional size loss (per pound) for cooking.
  • Two sizes per pound are lost from shell on to a cooked tail equivalent size*.

Shrimp Product Sizing

Product sizes specify the number of shrimp contained in a pound of product. For example, the 16/20 “count” tells you there will be between 16 and 20 shrimp per pound.

Recommended Uses for Sizes:
  • U/10 Colossal- Feature solo to show them off for great plate presentation.
  • U/12 & U15 Colossal- Use when featuring shrimp as the main course.
  • 26/30 & 31/35- Classified as "average sized." Good for scampis and sautées.
  • 41/50 & 51/60- Good for salad, soups, gumbo and rice dishes.

View Shrimp 101 Brochure with a stocking list here.