PIERZ -- Smude's Sunflower Oil is completing a major expansion one 'pop' at a time.

The Pierz based sunflower oil manufacturer will be expanding their 25,000 square feet facility to 75,000 square feet. Owner, Tom Smude says the expansion is necessary as they continue to grow their popcorn brand.

"We'll gain another 50,000 square feet and it'll be used for a crush plant. We'll be making about a tanker load of oil every other day. Most of that will be going into pet food to start with and ramping up with our popcorn, our popcorn has been crazy."

Smude's started making their own microwave popcorn brand in December of last year. Smude says the sunflower oil used in the popcorn bag is loaded with vitamin E, which is a natural preservative.

"We don't use any wax in the bag. So it's a floral free bag, there are no chemicals in the bag. We don't use any additives or preservatives."

Right now the company is making about 3,000 bags of popcorn per day. Smude says as part of the expansion they will be adding a larger popcorn bag filler. With that, they'll be able to make about 18,000 bags per day.

Smude's popcorn can be found in several local grocery stores. Smude says Coborn's is one of their main distributors.

"It's been going really good. Especially with Coborn's and Cash Wise, they're one of our bigger accounts. And then Lunds and Byerlys, Kowalski's, Festival Foods and some of the Hy-Vee's are carrying it now. It just keeps on growing."

With the expansion, Smude's will be looking for more employees. If you're interested check out their website.

The Pierz farm has about 400 acres. Tom and Jenni Smude started the sunflower oil business in 2010.

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