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Fresh and locally-grown

NaturalShrimp LLC purchases assets of former VeroBlue Farms plant

A ribbon cutting on Friday afternoon marked the start of a new venture in Webster City which will produce fresh, locally-grown shrimp.

NaturalShrimp LLC recently acquired the assets of Alder Aqua, formerly known as VeroBlue Farms in Webster City. According to the company’s website, that acquisition included, but was not limited to the real property, equipment, tanks, rolling stock, inventory, permits, contracts and other assets used in the operation of the business.

According to the website, the $10 million purchase represented assets in excess of $40 million and will make NaturalShrimp the largest square footage RAS shrimp company in the U.S.

Gerald Easterling, chief executive officer of NaturalShrimp, was on hand for the ribbon cutting, which included company representatives, city and county officials and members of the Webster City Chamber of Commerce.

“This is an exciting day for NaturalShrimp and for Webster City,” Easterling told the crowd gathered.

Mayor John Hawkins, who helped cut the ribbon on Friday, welcomed the company to the community.

“We’re excited to have you here,” he said.

He said what sets his company apart from others is the proprietary process to remove and control bacteria, ammonia and other contaminants in the water using an electrical charge, eliminating the need to dispose of the water in the city’s wastewater

system.

“The reason we’re able to recirculate water and treat ammonia, is because of this equipment,” he

said.

Easterling had four of the RAS units on display during the ribbon cutting, which he said represented about a half million dollar investment. Installation of the equipment is expected to begin in the next week and within 60 days, he projected the plant would be fully equipped.

“We’re excited about this technology and the impact it has for clean water. We recirculate everything, we keep everything inside and we don’t dump it outside,” he said.

Esterling said the company hopes to employ about 50 people in the production area and plan to bring back many of the trained technicians that had worked for VeroBlue.

“Those were really good people, highly qualified and trained,” he said. “They just didn’t have the technology.”

The CEO also said the company is looking at further processing, including portion packing shrimp and shipping. He said he expected that could mean another 50 jobs.

“You should start to see a huge amount of activity around here starting the first week of February,” Easterling said.

The Webster City facility will join the company’s other production plant in La Coste, Texas.

“This gives us a footprint in the Midwest,” Esterling said. “We’ve looked at this facility being able to handle Chicago, Minneapolis and all the other areas around here. Between La Coste and this facility, we expect to be able to cover all of the Midwest.”

Easterling said the Webster City plant would likely be able to produce thousands of pounds of shrimp per week.

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