North Carolina Sea Grant

September 14, 2009 | David Green

how to select, handle, clean and store seafood

Shrimp are sold by weight and count, the number of shrimp it takes to equal one pound.

You often see descriptive names for shrimp such as small, medium, large or jumbo.  However, there are no standardized or regulated criteria for these descriptions, so always compare prices based on the actual count per pound.

Shrimp are available in different market forms such as head-on, headless, and peeled/deveined.  If you buy shrimp (head-on) from a local fisherman you can expect to obtain approximately 60% by weight of headless shrimp (still in the shell) once the heads are removed.

So don’t be surprised to learn that the price you are quoted of $3 per pound for head-on shrimp will actually cost $5 per pound for headless shrimp.  Many sellers remove the heads on request and may include a service fee such as $0.25 per pound.


An easy way to estimate the weight of headless shrimp you buy is to multiply 0.6 by the total weight of heads-on shrimp you purchase.  You can determine
the price per pound of headless shrimp by multiplying 1.67 times the head-on shrimp price.


Remember these figures are approximate and can vary between species and sizes of shrimp.

Contributed by David Green.

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