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Farmer Makes Chips In Old Dairy Barn
South Dakota farmer Bob Campbell started a food manufacturing business right on the farm after months of careful research.
Campbell, who used to sell potatoes for further processing to Frito Lay, got started on the idea of making his own brand of potato chips as a way for his two teenage sons to make some extra money. It soon mushroomed into a $75,000 investment requiring four 8-hr. workshifts of workers to produce 5,200 bags of chips per week.
"We did everything ourselves from the ground up, including the design of the package. We want to produce a quality chip so anyone who tries them knows they're the best," says Campbell. He spent months visiting other potato chip manufacturers, including other farmers who'd started chip-making businesses on their own. After learning the business, he bought the required equipment, including peelers, slicers, conveyors, packages, fryers, and so on. He designed or modified some of the equipment to fit his small, hands-on operation, which is located in the hay loft of an old dairy barn on the farm. To locate in the barn, the Campbells had to thoroughly remodel the building, install wash-room facilities, and line the wood walls with white steel.
Campbell says there was surprisingly little government paperwork and licensing involved in setting up an on-farm food manufacturing business.
The only Federal licensing problem he had was with the FDA over nutritional information required on the package. He found out you have to be careful about the claims you make. "Our chips don't have any cholesterol in them because we use high-quality cottonseed oil for frying, but I found out that if you want to say 'no cholesterol' on the package you have to include very detailed information on the package," he explains.
Campbell has taken care to produce a high-quality chip not only by using highest quality oil, but also by using longer frying time and thicker slices. "The high quality helps differentiate themselves from other products on the market. It's a competitive market and you have to stand out from the crowd somehow," he notes, adding that sales have built gradually as word gets around.
Campbell ships chips out in minimum lots of 6 bags at $2 a bag, or 12 bags at $1.75, including postage.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dakota Style Chips, Rt. 1, Box 85, Clark, S. Dak. 57225 (ph 605 532-5271).

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1987 - Volume #11, Issue #1