Shrimp grading


Seafood General Information

Shrimp grading

Shrimp consumption in the U.S. is in excess of 800 million pounds.  Of this 800 million pounds 600 million is imported and 20% of that is farm raised. 

The countries that most of the shrimp is imported from is China, Thailand, Indonesia, Denmark and India. 

Shrimp is graded as A, B, or substandard.  The grade is determined by the amount of dehydration, deterioration, pieces, size, unclean ends, texture and the presence of legs, flippers and shells. 

On breaded shrimp the quality is determined by halos, balling up of the breading and holidays, meaning spots where there is no breading. 

Breaded shrimp must be at least 50% shrimp and no more than 50% breading. Lightly breaded must contain at least 65% shrimp and no more than 35% breading. 

Imitation breaded shrimp means there is more than 50% breading. The more breading on the product, the lower the price.  The price of a product is also determined by the amount of value that has been added.

A butterfly breaded is shrimp split part way through on the vein side and spread open.

Split breaded means completely dissected along the first four segments, sometimes referred to as Western Style. 

Hand breaded is labor intensive and more expensive than machine breaded and results in a more attractive product. 

There are over 300 species of shrimp, of which about 80 are harvested commercially. When it comes to names few species can beat shrimp. 

There are species called
Barber Pole,
Red Rice,
Smooth Nylon,
Southern Rough,
Stiletto, just to mention a few. 

To keep things simple we have put them in three categories; Pinks, Browns and Whites, and even then it is nearly impossible to tell the difference after they are cooked. For everyone buying or selling shrimp the important thing to look for is the different level of value the processor has added to the product.

Shrimp is the number two selling seafood item in the country, tuna being number one, it is an important item in everyone's price book and on the menu. 

First of all "green" means raw shrimp in the shell, not the color of the shrimp. 

Headless means the shrimp's shell and tail are left in tact but the head of the shrimp has been removed.  This is the basic form of raw shrimp and involves the most amount of processing by the operator. 

The count refers to the number of shrimp per pound.  When we refer to a 16/20 shrimp, we are referring to a pound of shrimp that has between 16 and 20 shrimp per pound. 

The next step in processing the shrimp is to peel and devein it.  Peel means to remove the shell and devein means to remove the digestive canal which runs along the shrimp's back.  It is now referred to as raw P & D and weighs about 25 percent less.  It is still considered a 16/20, the original size, even though it takes 23 raw P & D shrimp to weigh a pound. 

The key to remember is raw P & D shrimp will always be referred to by its original green headless size.  The rest is easy.  Cooked P & D and breaded shrimp are referred to by the actual number of shrimp in a pound.