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Producing Excellence

Knouse Foods

Peach Glen, PA

Type of Operation: Apple processing

Size of Operation: 100 grower members

In Business Since: before 1912

Farm Credit Partner: CoBank

Working with Farm Credit Since: before 1952

With roots going back to the early 1900s, Knouse Foods has grown into one of the largest apple processors in the world. A commitment to quality and a focus on the future have enabled the co-op’s more than 100 grower members to thrive despite natural fluctuations in apple harvests and increasing industry consolidation.

Based in Peach Glen, Pennsylvania, the co-op recently faced a dramatic increase in operating costs at its main processing plant due to the expiration of statutory rate caps on electricity. Knouse knew it needed to take action to protect the long-term health of the business. A long-standing commitment to sustainability made the self-generation of solar energy a natural solution.

“Solar energy is non-polluting, operating costs are relatively low and the cells have a long lifespan, making it both environmentally friendly and economical once operational,” said Tom DeNisco, vice president and general manager/ CFO. A more than 50-year history with the Farm Credit System and a solid relationship with CoBank made it easy for Knouse to select a financing partner.

“No other lender invested the time to learn about the project like CoBank did,” says Knouse Foods President and CEO Ken Guise. “If you think about it, they were really taking a leap of faith with us. When people think of solar fields they think of places like Arizona and Florida, not the chilly northeast.”

Since its completion, the facility has been producing 7 to 10 percent more electricity than anticipated. “In the end, it doesn’t matter how cold it is as long as the sun is out,” Tom said. “We’re really pleased with the outcome of this project – and with our ongoing relationship with CoBank.”

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