a Supreme difference
At Purely Supreme Foods,
and CEO Ed Fong and his
70 Burley and Meridian employees
target what he calls “time-starved
consumers who have little time to cook
but still want to provide restaurantquality
offerings to their families.”
Purely Supreme’s line of refrigerated
side dishes nestle against bagged salads
and heat-and-eat pot roasts around
the perimeters of supermarkets—not in
the frozen food aisles. If it takes the
firm’s customers longer than 15 minutes
to adept its oil-free potatoes and other vegetables to their tastes—
sautéing them in the oil of their choice, mixing them with
seasoning packets, and microwaving or baking them—Fong figures
he has let them down.
At TechHelp Idaho, UI Extension food processing specialist Jeff
Kronenberg figures he’s let his customers down if he can’t
slash their operating costs, optimize their employees’ effectiveness,
and sail over regulatory hurdles. Kronenberg travels from one Idaho
border to another, helping small-and medium-sized food-processing
businesses get their footing and hit their stride in the marketplace.
Whether it’s through site visits, needs assessments, on-site
work, on-site training, educational seminars, or certificate programs,
Kronenberg says TechHelp Idaho has made a difference. “We
created jobs and increased profits.”
A not-for-profit organization that has served the needs of Idaho
manufacturers since 1996, TechHelp Idaho is organized as a partnership
of UI, Boise State University, and Idaho State University. “There
could not be a better program in my mind in the state of Idaho to
small businesses become world class,” says Fong, whose production
lines at Burley have increased from one shift to three shifts since
—and a team of other TechHelp manufacturing specialists
and third-party partners—began assisting the firm in 2001.
jobs, helping economies
Minidoka and Cassia counties, downsizing at McCain Foods USA Inc.
and a plant closure by J. R. Simplot have eliminated roughly 850
jobs since May 2002, bruising other retail businesses as well.
“We won’t help solve all of the problems of the Mini-Cassia
but certainly we are offering employment opportunities and helping
put dollars in the local economy,” says Fong.
bring fresh insights
At Burley this
past summer, UI food-science interns Karina Polar and Christy Maurin
brought fresh insights and straight-from-the-latesttextbook information
to the firm. “I have to compliment the UI on its level of
students and their skill sets,” Fong says.
that technology can transfer from academia to Idaho’s food-processing
lines, the quicker that products like Purely Supreme’s roasted
garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus with Hollandaise sauce can
fill consumers’ shopping carts—and the sooner everyone
University of Idaho, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.