|Sep 29, 2012 --
Outline of Need:
Business and Cooperative Specialist, Judy Meche, resides in an area of Louisiana that is known for crawfish. Crawfish is one of the hottest food items during this time of the year, a substantial business in Southern Louisiana, and an inherent part of the culture down here.
There are a lot of small independent producers of Louisiana’s farm-raised crawfish who need help to compete with larger producers to market and sale their product. Cajun Central is located in Ville Platte, Louisiana. The owners needed help to expand and market their thriving crawfish business. A large percentage of their crop at the end of the season was sold to other companies to process and sell as a frozen product. They needed to capitalize on their own product at the end of the season, so they built a plant to market their own value added IQF (individual quick freezing) product.
How Rural Development Helped:
Judy assisted Robert and Ann Flayed, owners of Cajun Central, with obtaining grant funds for working capital to expand their aquaculture product, and create jobs in their community. Judy provided technical assistance and worked with Robert and Ann to get through the application process just as she does with all of her clients.
The End Result:
Judy knows that a crawfish producer has to be familiar with market demand, harvesting, processing, packaging, freezing, and distribution to ensure the highest quality product. The Floyds’ run their farming operation on a crop rotational basis; crawfish/rice production. The harvesting time of the crawfish is critical for the rice production to commence in the proper order of rotation. You really would have to understand the process and how crawfish are harvested. Judy knows the process, needs of the local area, and has knowledge of crawfish farming operations. After all, she resides in the neighboring parish of St. Landry and this is a way of living in South Louisiana. Her knowledge of the food product, businesses, and the residents all together equals success for the applicant.
Judy worked with the owners to establish Cajun Central as a premium Louisiana farm-raised processed crawfish product, direct from the ponds to the market. With the new plant, the crop that went to other companies is now processed as a value added product for the owners of Cajun Central. They plan on marketing to large and small grocery chains, establish an Internet site, hire additional employees, develop a marketing campaign, and enter into new emerging markets to sell. Now, they can process the crawfish using the individual quick freezing (IQF) system for the whole-boiled crawfish.
“I enjoy working this program and helping others. My goal is to provide quality service so that the producers can achieve increased revenues, create and save jobs, and expand their operations in rural communities,” said Judy. “I started with Rural Development in 1987, worked the RD Value Added Producer Grant Program for ten years, and have assisted businesses with growth and development opportunities.”