Natural Blend Vegetale Dehydration, LLC held its opening on September 30th, manufacturing facility in Pitt County, North Carolina.
The company will dehydrate sweet potatoes to be used in various pet food products for the global market. Natural Blend will be managed by Ham Produce Company, Inc., which operates one of the largest farming operations of sweet potatoes in North Carolina. More than 50 jobs will be created and the investment in the project hit over USD 16 million. Ham Produce, headquartered in Snow Hill, NC, purchased the Collins & Aikman building in 2009 for the storage of sweet potatoes. Excess capacity spanning approximately 27,000 square feet has been renovated for Natural Blend Vegetable Dehydration’s operation.
“I’m excited to have the construction phase of the project coming to completion and I’m looking forward to working with the growers,” said Bobby Ham, president of Ham Produce Company, Inc. “We were happy to be able to utilize local contractors on this project”.
The US production of sweet potatoes is more competitive than ever, due to growing food safety and quality concerns, including for pet foods. In the harvesting process, a percentage of sweet potatoes are discarded due to shape or size, but not a lack nutritional value. The dehydration facilities will provide a value-added process that enables the entire sweet potato crop to be used by making use of the discarded sweet potatoes.
“Agriculture and agribusiness is our leading industry in North Carolina with a USD 78 billion impact. With the addition of new agribusiness ventures such as Natural Blend Vegetable Dehydration, I believe we will soon see this become a USD 100 billion industry in our state,” said NC Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.