Weiser facility will bring a new organic crop to Idaho

SunSpuds, a sunflower and Jerusalem artichoke hybrid, will be used to make inulin at a new $60 million facility in Weiser, Idaho. The uses for inulin include texture maintenance, mouth feel, bulking, low-calorie sweetening, fat replacement and dietary fiber enhancement, according to Intrinsic Organics, which is building the plant.

WEISER, Idaho — A new processing facility near Weiser will introduce a hybrid organic crop to Idaho.

Intrinsic Organics announced its $60 million facility will use a hybrid tuber called a SunSpud to produce inulin, which is used as a healthy food ingredient, including as a fat or sugar replacement.

“This is a great opportunity for our organic farmers to have another crop they can fit into their rotations,” said Kit Kamo, executive director of the Snake River Economic Development Alliance, which recruited the company to Washington County.

Field trials show that SunSpuds, a Jerusalem artichoke and sun flower hybrid, will fit well into organic rotations common in this region, said Devin Limb, Intrinsic Organic’s vice president of marketing.

“The (crop) is very well suited to be grown organically in Idaho,” he said. “It fits fantastically with the crops grown organically in the region.”

Intrinsic officials expect to have the facility built this fall and it will initially produce 1.2 million pounds of inulin. If that demonstration plant is successful, the facility will expand and ramp up to 5 million pounds in a few years, Limb said.

The number of farmers who grow SunSpuds will increase significantly as the facility increases production, he said.

According to the company’s website — www.intrinsicorganics.com — total acres grown for the facility are expected to reach 433 by 2020 and 867 by 2021.

The facility is a scaled-down version of a previous project announced last year that would have used barley as well as SunSpuds to produce a variety of food ingredients, organic fertilizer and alcohol.

Limb said the U.S. imports about 50 million pounds of inulin annually, mostly from Europe and China. Intrinsic Organics will be the first company to domestically produce organic inulin from crops grown in the U.S., he said.

According to the company’s website, the food industry currently purchases inulin made from chicory root that is not grown organically.

“Intrinsic Organics now strives to become the best supplier of custom, high-quality organic inulin to satisfy the demands of the U.S. and world market for healthier food ingredients,” the website states.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the facility will be held June 6. Intrinsic CEO Sot Chimonas said the company anticipates hiring 20 people during the facility’s first year of operation.

The facility was approved to receive an Idaho Tax Reimbursement Incentive Credit on May 25. The tax credit of 18 percent for six years will benefit Intrinsic to the tune of $1.25 million if the company meets all the incentive measurements it agreed to.

According to an Idaho Department of Commerce summary of the incentive agreement, the company will make a $60 million capital investment in the facility.

Limb said any farmers interested in growing SunSpuds can contact the company by email at info@intrinsicorganics.com

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