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Office of Governor Pete Ricketts

Gov. Ricketts Announces Contract to Sell Preferred Popcorn in China

Media Contacts:

Taylor Gage, 402-499-8351

Eric Maher, 402-471-1974


Nebraska company ships popcorn to China each week.


SHANGHAI, CHINA – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED), helped Preferred Popcorn LLC of Chapman announce a contract with their long-time Chinese partner, Zhong Liang Tian Run (ZLTR) Trading Inc.  This contract keeps ZLTR on track to purchase millions of pounds of bulk popcorn from Nebraska-based Preferred Popcorn and for China to remain one of the largest markets among the 70 countries where Preferred has customers.  The contract was signed by Preferred CEO Norm Krug and ZLTR CEO Mr. Xiaodong Pan during a signing ceremony.


“Preferred Popcorn is a great example of a Nebraska agribusiness successfully supplying and marketing one of our state’s high-quality commodities in China,” said Governor Ricketts.  “To grow Nebraska, we must continue to look for new opportunities to expand existing markets and find new ones.  Congratulations to Norm Krug and his team on their continued success.”


Following the signing ceremony, Preferred Popcorn CEO Norm Krug said he thinks the trade mission is an opportunity to demonstrate to a critical overseas market that Nebraska is open for business, especially when it comes to supplying the huge market with high quality grain.  He is also thankful for Governor Ricketts’ strong leadership in encouraging global trade that enables Nebraska farmers and agribusiness leaders to sell their products to the world.


“Governor Ricketts is doing his part to help Nebraska agriculture by hosting this strategic trade mission to China,” said Preferred CEO Krug.  “China is a huge market for Nebraska dent corn, soybeans, popcorn, wheat, distiller’s grains and agricultural products.  The whole world wants their business, but this trade mission lets China know that Nebraska is ready and open for business.  We want to be the first in line to supply this huge market with high quality grain.  We must be an aggressive marketer of ag products and Governor Ricketts is once again providing strong leadership to give Nebraska farmers and agribusiness an opportunity to sell the product of their toil.”


Preferred Popcorn has imported bulk popcorn into Chinese theaters and ready-to-eat popcorn producers for over five years.  Over the last two years Preferred has seen exports to China double as a result of the strong partnership with ZLTR.  In the last two years, Preferred has sold millions of pounds of popcorn to China, which is one of 10 countries in Asia where Preferred has customers.  In fact, over 50 percent of Preferred’s total sales are exports and the company has seen consistent growth over the years.  Preferred has grown from only four employees in 1998 to over 80 employees today.  In 2016, Nebraska was the 2nd largest producer of popcorn in the United States.


ZLTR re-sells Preferred’s bulk popcorn in 50 pound bags to theater and ready to eat popcorn markets across China.  This partnership has given Preferred a strong market position in the imported bulk popcorn market as well as added value to the farm operations of Nebraska growers and resulted in an increase of trade-related jobs in Nebraska. 


This summer ZLTR introduced their own ready to eat (RTE) popcorn product to the market through online and retail outlets in the Shanghai and Nanjing metro areas.  Earlier in the day, Krug and Mr. Pan led a tour of the ZLTR ready to eat popcorn processing plant outside of Shanghai.  Preferred is the exclusive bulk popcorn supplier for ZLTR’s three popcorn flavors: sweet, semi-sweet, and salty. All three products use a simple ingredient mix to appeal to health conscious consumers.


This popcorn will also be served at the Nebraska Cornhuskers football watch event during the Governor’s trade mission on November 13, 2016 in Shanghai, China.  The event will include the delegation as well as alumni members from the University of Nebraska.  For more information about this new product, please go to   

Gov. Ricketts Announces Contract to Sell Preferred Popcorn in China - 11/12/2016