Indiana Popcorn Seed Maker Reaching Markets Worldwide
ROMNEY - A hybrid popcorn seed producer and distributor may be located in a small Tippecanoe County community, but it has built a global footprint. Romney-based Ag Alumni Seed sprouted from Purdue University in 1938 to market hybrid watermelon, tomato, grains and corn developed at the school and when the program ended in 1995, the nonprofit was born. Ag Alumni Seeds Agricultural Alumni Seed Improvement Association Inc., as it is formally known, has customers throughout the Corn Belt, as well as South America, Europe, South Africa and Asia.
In the most recent edition of the Ag+Bio+Sciences podcast, a collaboration between AgriNovus Indiana and Inside INdiana Business, Chief Executive Officer Jay Hulbert said Indiana's position near the top of popcorn producing states makes the state an idea location for his business. "The popcorn business is good right now," he told host Gerry Dick. "Popcorn is something that makes a great snack. It's inexpensive and you can add whatever flavor to it that fits the local culture. So, a popcorn grown in Indiana gets exported to Mexico, they pop it, they put some chili powder on it, maybe a squeeze of lime juice, and it's a Mexican snack. In Brazil, one of the popular microwave popcorn flavors is mustard, which sounds odd, but on a hot day in Brazil with a cold beer, it's not bad!"
Hulbert says popcorn is a specialty crop, so unlike larger commodities like corn and soybeans, the market doesn't fluctuate a lot. He says its an alternative crop that may provide better margins than dent corn. "What you pay at the movie theater or at the supermarket for popcorn doesn't move up and down very much, so it's a little bit more stable for the popcorn companies and for growers," he added.