SOUTHPORT, NC (WECT) - A business in Southport is refusing to give into the lure of cheap labor in foreign countries, and giving people in the area a job. And in doing so, it keeps their products fresh for consumers by using seafood that can be found right here in the Tar Heel state.
In the mid 60s, CB Caroon started a business of processing the meat found in blue crabs. Today, his product is found in restaurants all around the area. Not wanting to waste anything harvested is how Cash Caroon started his business.
"He started out just picking crab meat and he saw the backs being thrown away," said Keith Caroon, who continues to operate the business his late father started five decades ago. "He just did not like it, so he started cleaning them out, and Mom came up with the recipe."
And just like his father did, Keith Caroon still produces stuffed crabs and crab cakes from his Southport facility, using North Carolina blue crabs.
Americans are eating less seafood, but last year, still consumed almost five billion pounds of it. However, the majority of seafood consumed in the United States is imported.
Caroon says he continues to buy meat from packers who have harvested Blue Crabs in the Pamlico and Core Sounds area of the state, with some coming from the Chesapeake Bay.
The meat from the claw, or pinchers is what he uses.
And for the stuffed crabs, Caroon buys actual crab shells from a company along the gulf coast.
After being disinfected, the crab mixture, that includes red bell pepper, celery and hot sauce, with a small amount of crab filler and some secret ingredients, is stuffed into the shells by hand, then placed on a conveyer belt, where they are dipped into a solution of milk and flour, then a touch of corn meal is added before being packed up for shipment.
There used to be thirty crab packers in coastal North Carolina, now the number is down to a half dozen. Cheap labor in China is what Caroon says has led to the decline.
"A lot of people still insists on something made in the States, and I am grateful for that, and we've got a good customer base, but people have been using our products for almost 50 years," said Caroon.
And while he still produces a good number of stuffed crabs, he says the trend is moving to more people consuming crab cakes, just like the ones on the menu at Provisions Company in Southport, where already this year, their records show over seventy thousand of them have been served.
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