Companies within the food processing industry rely on institutions of higher education for research and development, as well as providing a source of skilled workers. One company that got its start with the help of the Food Processing Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is Apollo Food Group, LLC, which produces and markets frozen Greek yogurt under the brand name Yasso™. Nebraska provides many advantages to food processors of all sizes, including its central geographic location with access to I-80, the most traveled east-west interstate highway; a high-quality, productive workforce with low turnover and absenteeism rates; and reliable supplies of affordable energy that are particularly important to the food processing industry. Nebraska’s electric rates for typical industrial customers are 21 percent lower than the U.S. average and are among the lowest in the lower 48 states.
Nebraska is the only state in the nation with electric service provided entirely by public power. The Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) is the state’s largest electric utility, serving 86 of the state’s 93 counties with a diverse mix of fuels. Together with its public power partners, NPPD has developed a large customer economic development incentive electric rate that offers energy at a discounted price for a fixed period of time.
Other incentives are offered for energy-efficiency programs. For example, Open Range Beef’s meat processing plant in Gordon recently received an incentive from NPPD to improve the efficiency of the compressed air system used in its operations, thereby reducing electricity use.