In the late ‘80s four coal miners in Birmingham, AL began looking for a better way to make a living, eventually narrowing their search to Delcambre and Bayou La Batre. Fortunately for Delcambre, the work permits were easier to obtain there. So, in 1987 Sims Brothers Seafood was opened by Larry, Wayne, Mike Sims and Jon Floyd and later renamed, what we know now as Gulf Crown Seafood Co. Located on Floyd Road in Delcambre, the seafood producer, run by Jon’s brother Jeff Floyd, president, and his son John, manager, is not only one of the largest on the Gulf coast but in the country, processing catches from Texas to Alabama’s coast. The 40,000 square-foot facility is capable of processing over 200,000 pounds of shrimp a day including brown, pink, white, rock shrimp and seabobs – headless, peeled, block frozen or individually quick frozen. Harvested shrimp is taken back to the docks, unloaded into refrigerated trucks and delivered to the plant for processing. During the processing phase, the shrimp pass through several stages from sorting to peeling, and are graded to size before being packaged and ready for shipping. Thanks to state-of-the-art processing equipment, peeling, deveining and grading are all automated, along with a machine that detects and shoots out any peelings, tiny fish or imperfect shrimp. In fact, the only part of the processing that is not automated is the deheading (still done by hand) and the physical placement of the sealed
bags into boxes and pushing them into the freezer. Shrimp can be packed in 5-pound frozen blocks or in 1, 2, 2.5, 3 and 5-pound individually quick frozen (IQF) packs. “We are one of the few plants that processes IQF shrimp in the country; it’s a difficult and costly process,” says Camille Floyd, John’s wife. The plant’s cold storage space is maintained by a computerized thermostat at a constant temperature guaranteeing shrimp stay fresh. The technology has made it possible to process 33 to 40 five-pound bags a minute or about 8,000 pounds an hour. That comes out to more than 15,000 million pounds a year, which is trucked all over the country. Thanks to up-to-date processing, shrimp can go from the Gulf waters to your dinner table within two to three days. And Camille adds, “Our refrigerated reefer trucks make sure to maintain the quality of the shrimp as they deliver shrimp from Delcambre, La to its final destination all over the U.S.” Customers include restaurants, grocery stores and distributors located throughout the U.S., with a large emphasis directed to Florida, along the East Coast and Chicago, including brands like Louisiana Select,
Ocean Select, Harbor Fresh, Mark Food and Polito Enterprise. For the past two years, Gulf Crown has processed shrimp for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Food Assistance Program which provides emergency food and nutrition assistance to low-income needy persons and the elderly through local food banks and other sources. Every year presents challenges for Gulf Crown, whether it’s import prices, hurricanes, labor shortages, an unexpected pandemic or shortages of product availability. According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, annual Louisiana shrimp landings – a measure of head-on shrimp production in pounds – has declined dramatically over the last two decades. Louisiana shrimp landings have fallen over 50% in the last 20 years, from 147.4 million pounds in 2000 down to around 74.06 million pounds in 2021. While it’s, no doubt, helped that the Floyds process shrimp for other states with different shrimping seasons, their focus on quality, freshness and reliability have as much to do with staying afloat for 36 years.