Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence


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2016 Minister's Award Winner

First Ontario Shrimp Ltd. - Northumberland County

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Minister Jeff Leal, Brad Cocchio, Jordan Cocchio, Tracy Cocchio, Paul Cocchio, MPP Lou Rinaldi, Premier Wynne

Minister Jeff Leal, Brad Cocchio, Jordan Cocchio, Tracy Cocchio, Paul Cocchio, MPP Lou Rinaldi, Premier Wynne

Good things grow in Ontario - everything from strawberries to spinach to shrimp. Thanks to the trailblazing efforts of the Cocchio family, home-grown crustaceans are now available in Ontario. Inspired by reports of indoor aquaculture in the United States, the Cocchios set out to become Ontario's first shrimp producers. They researched and toured operations in Maryland and Indiana, secured an aquaculture licence and worked with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to import feed and shrimp larvae. The family then set out to convert one of their hog barns into a shrimp facility, installing 16 cement saltwater tanks, each lined with a pond liner and filled with nearly 60,000 litres of water. Although initial survival rates were low, the company has fine-tuned its closed-loop system and can now produce 136 kilograms of Pacific white shrimp a week. As production increases, the business is expanding its customer base, while mentoring other farmers in shrimp farming. The Cocchios have successfully created a new local food product, paving the way for more jobs for Ontario's economy and more value chain opportunities for local industries, like equipment manufacturers, hatcheries, and processing and packaging facilities.


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