Whitestown-based Weaver Popcorn Manufacturing has unveiled a new flavor of its ready-to-eat popcorn, while also announcing a partnership with the national Folds of Honor Foundation. The nonprofit provides scholarships to the children and spouses of America’s fallen or disabled service-members. The new sea salt flavored snack comes in a 28-count snack pack and is co-branded with the Folds of Honor logo on Pop Weaver packaging.
“It literally just started rolling off the line last (Tuesday) night,” Weaver Chief Operating Officer Tim Ingle said in an interview with Inside INdiana Business. ”And funny enough, the gentleman that was starting it up for the first time is a military veteran.”
As Ingle waves the company’s patriotism, he says the Indiana homegrown business employs more than 100 military veterans.
“This new partnership with national Folds of Honor and a new branded line of snacks is just one more reason feel great about healthy snacking that gives back to a great cause,” said Ingle.
LISTEN: Ingle explains why the partnership with Folds of Honor is important and how the capital investment has made is paying off.
Ingle says the 95-year-old company has invested $64 million over the past 18 months as the company responds to growing market demand, especially in the ready-to-eat sector.
In addition to the Whitestown plant, Weaver also runs two facilities in the Grant County town of Van Buren and one in Pennsylvania.
A majority of the investment, $50 million, went towards the Boone County operations.
“We’ve quadrupled our capacity in the last 12 months here in Whitestone, Indiana. [We’re] adding a lot of kettles, a lot of bagging equipment, a lot of automated case-packers,” explained Ingle. “Our owner is committed to do things quicker, better, faster, and safer.”
Ingle says a small percentage of the company’s production is Pop Weaver-branded snacks. A majority of its business is producing and packaging popcorn for many private label and national brands. Products include wet-and-air pop popping corn, microwave popcorn, and ready-to-eat popcorn.
Ingle says microwave popcorn saw some growth during the pandemic, as people stayed home and movie theaters closed, but he says the company is witnessing explosive growth in ready-to-eat products.
“We’re seeing growth of as much as 80% a year in some [brands], so really phenomenal growth.”
With the growth of RTE snacks, Ingle says much of the capital investment has gone into climate control of the facilities to eliminate humidity.
“We don’t want to expose the popped kernel to moisture, or anything that’s going to let it go stale, quick. We want to get it in that bag and seal it without exposure, so we want it to be in a very climate controlled environment,” said Ingle, who added the product can get from the cooking kettle to the bagger in about 20 seconds.
He says that’s due in part to the investment the company has been making in technology.
“Our associates have been amazing adapting to consumer demand and learning new technology to support growth of the company. “
In addition to sea salt, the Pop Weaver Brand also recently launched white cheddar flavor in grocery retail, and plans to unveil organic sea salt, and kettle corn in the near future.