Last Updated on December 25, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes
Louisiana’s Dominance in Crawfish Industry Boosts State’s Economy
Louisiana is known as the Crawfish Capital of the US, producing a staggering 90% of the crawfish found in the country. Most of these crawfish are cultivated in a 35-square-mile area near Welsh, Louisiana, making it a hub for the thriving crawfish farming industry.
The roots of this booming industry can be traced back to the 1980s when rice farmers in Louisiana decided to experiment with crawfish farming. Little did they know that their experiment would give birth to a multi-million dollar industry that now generates $300 million annually for the state’s economy.
One of the prominent figures in this industry is Madison McIntyre, the founder of Parish Seafood Wholesale. McIntyre’s business handles a whopping 4 million pounds of crawfish every year, showcasing the scale at which the industry operates.
Crawfish season usually begins in September and October when rice fields are flooded. Workers take advantage of this flood and use traps to catch the crawfish. Equipped with pedal-controlled boats, these workers swiftly retrieve the traps, emptying the crawfish into their boats, and then re-baiting the traps for the next catch.
Once the crawfish are collected, they are transported to a nearby dock for weighing and cooling. Before being placed in coolers, the crawfish are thoroughly washed to ensure cleanliness and freshness.
Selling crawfish is not without its challenges, as the industry remains mostly unregulated. However, McIntyre’s company manages to find success by utilizing smaller crawfish for its own restaurants and other products. These smaller crawfish go through a separate processing facility, where their tail meat is extracted and used in various dishes.
The process of peeling crawfish is a labor-intensive one. Dedicated workers, known as “peelers,” are responsible for hand-peeling the boiled crawfish. These peelers are paid around $2.50 per pound and must work quickly to earn a satisfactory income.
To further expand his business, McIntyre plans to open a new facility specifically focused on air freight. However, he faces competition from the increasing number of crawfish farms that have sprouted up across Louisiana.
Inflation has also hit the industry, causing costs to rise significantly. Fuel prices alone have skyrocketed, costing McIntyre an extra $150,000 compared to the previous year.
McIntyre’s dedication to his business is evident through his responsible approach to his employees. Most of his staff members are on visas, and he takes the responsibility of providing them with housing and transportation.
Last year, Parish Seafood Wholesale saw a remarkable $500,000 in profits, highlighting the success of the crawfish farming industry. McIntyre himself took a modest salary of $20,000 while reinvesting a majority of the profits back into the company.
Louisiana’s dominance in the crawfish industry not only showcases the state’s culinary heritage but also serves as an economic driver, supporting the growth of the next generation of farmers and contributing significantly to the state’s economy.