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While North Carolina leads the nation in sweet potato cultivation, the cop has been something of an unsung hero in the state’s agribusiness community. That perception is changing thanks in part to a Nash County company now promoting food and beverage ingredients that align with today’s healthier, nutrient-rich diets.
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When Bobby Davis meets with Belgium-based owners of Poppies International NV, he knows what their initial question will be. “It’s the first thing they ask about: ‘the employees – are they happy’,” says Davis, who is controller at Poppies’ 85-worker operation in Nash County’s Whitaker Business & Industry Center.
Poppies International makes cream puffs and mini éclairs distributed under the Poppies and Delizza brand names, as well as private labels for retail grocers. Products made at its U.S. headquarters in Rocky Mount are shipped frozen to buyers across the U.S., Canada and Asia.
Still family-owned after 40 years in business, Poppies views its workforce like, well, family. And some of the plant’s employees literally are. On its staff are a number of brothers, sons and spouses. Davis’s wife, for example, works as Poppies’ logistics manager. “It’s a family-run business, and they have ...
By Lawrence Bivins
Italy’s love affair with sweet treats began 800 years ago when Venetian merchants acquired sugarcane farms in what today is Lebanon. The story’s latest chapter has brought opportunity to Rocky Mount in the form of Nutkao S.r.l.’s 100,000-sq.-ft. production facility at Whitaker Business & Industry Center. The company’s plant there makes nut butters laced with chocolate and other sweet flavors.
“We started out as a very small company producing hazelnut spread,” explains Davide Braida, president of Nutkao USA. Braida’s father, Giuseppe, established the parent company in 1982 in the Cuneo province of northern Italy. Still privately held, Nutkao exceeded 120 million euros (nearly $130 million) in sales in 2016. Its products are sold to consumers as toppings and dipping packs that contain breadsticks for easy snacking. Nutkao supplies spreads for private-label buyers such as Kroger and Aldi supermarkets, and its buyers also in ...