Preferred Popcorn celebrates its global success with new corporate headquarters

A personalized license plate on an SUV in the parking lot says it all Thursday afternoon as Preferred Popcorn celebrates its 15th year in business and the opening of its new corporate headquarters. (Independent/Barrett Stinson)

Preferred Popcorn in Chapman has signed a trade agreement with Haase Foods of Germany as part of a trade mission being led by Gov. Pete Ricketts.

The agreement was announced Sunday. Ricketts is making his first trade mission to Germany to promote Nebraska quality ag products, such as Preferred Popcorn. He also is showing the state’s appreciation to German companies that have created jobs in Nebraska.

Last year, Preferred Popcorn celebrated its 20th anniversary. From its beginnings as a local farmers co-op, the company now does business in more than 70 countries.

The growth that the Chapman popcorn company has experienced over the last 20 years was reflected last year with the announcement of a $6 million expansion project that added 22,500 square feet to its Chapman plant. The expansion doubled the company’s operational capacity, added 10 employees and expanded growing opportunities for area farmers who contract to grow popcorn for the company.

Haase Foods is an established German service contractor and wholesaler that supplies throughout Europe equipment, raw materials and packaging materials for movie theaters, amusement parks, sports arenas as well as the gastronomical sector.

The German company has an extensive product line with more than 3,000 items, including popcorn.

Nebraska is the largest producer of popcorn in the United States with more than 353 million pounds of annual production.

The European Union is one of Nebraska’s top trading destinations with $508.7 million in ag trade value last year. Of that, soybeans and beef had a combined value of $367 million.

This is Ricketts’ second trade mission to the European Union in the last five years. Germany is the largest economy in the EU. A recent trade agreement between the U.S. and the European Union will allow the U.S. to almost triple the amount of beef exported to the region. In 2005, only 5% of the U.S. beef entering the EU came from Nebraska. By 2018, Nebraska’s share rose to 53% and was valued at $124.3 million.

Delegates on the trade mission include representatives from Nebraska’s Department of Economic Development, Department of Agriculture and Department of Environment and Energy, the University of Nebraska, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Omaha Public Power District, Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, and several ag and manufacturing businesses.

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