Tucked away in a compound of non-descript tin buildings in the town of Turkey, N.C., is an unlikely tenant: Elizabeth’s Pecan Products.

Like the company’s delectable pecan treats, it’s what’s inside that counts. In addition to good old-fashioned raw pecans, Elizabeth’s produces a variety of chocolate-coated pecan products, including a chocolate-covered pecan brittle, butter-roasted chocolate pecans and raspberry-flavored chocolate pecans.

Alan Bundy, owner of Elizabeth’s Pecans, explains that he outsourced the chocolate-coating process for years, but it was costing him time and money.

With an equipment cost share award from the N.C. Value-Added Cost Share Program (NCVACS), Bundy is adding seemers — equipment that seals pecan containers — and a 34-foot chocolate coating machine to his operation in June 2011.

By bringing the entire production process under one roof, Bundy hopes that the chocolate-coated portion of his business — already 40 percent of all sales — will continue to grow as demand increases. The cost share award will provide Bundy with roughly $32,000 — or 40 percent of the total cost — for the new equipment.

To provide the main ingredient for Elizabeth’s products, Bundy maintains 45 acres of pecan trees that produce about 40,000 pounds of raw pecans annually. He grows more than half of the pecans used in Elizabeth’s products, but still must buy some pecans from other North Carolina producers each year because demand is so high.

Cleaning, quality checks

Once harvested, the pecans undergo rigorous cleaning and quality checks.

All of Elizabeth’s pecans are processed and cooked by hand rather than run through a machine in mass amounts. The company has six permanent positions, but staffs 20 or more during the peak season in fall.

Named for Bundy’s daughter, Elizabeth’s Pecans has evolved and expanded over the years. It started in 1981 when Bundy’s father, Captain Bobby F. Bundy, established Capt’n Bundy’s Pecan Farm in Turkey, N.C.

The success of Capt’n Bundy’s led to the processing company, B & B Pecan Processors of North Carolina, Inc., a father-son venture.

Beginning in 1997, the business expanded into pecan candies, particularly a “softer than usual” pecan brittle that launched the company in a new direction. Not long after the introduction of his pecan brittle, Alan Bundy created Elizabeth’s Pecan Products to produce and sell a variety of chocolate-coated and other pecan treats.

Today, the company offers a variety of pecan snacks, roasted pecan syrup, holiday samplers and corporate gift baskets, in addition to the chocolate-coated products.

Bundy says the company is already taking a long look at chocolate-coated blueberries as the next potential value-added venture.

Elizabeth’s Pecan Products is available in more than 120 stores in North Carolina and has been sold in all 50 states and 14 countries.

NCVACS is coordinated by N.C. MarketReady, the Cooperative Extension outreach of the North Carolina State University Plants for Human Health Institute, located at the North Carolina Research Campus.

Funded by the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission and the Family Farm Innovation Fund (2010), the cost share program was launched in 2009 to encourage more North Carolina producers to apply for federal funding and to generate more competitive applications.

For more information on Elizabeth’s Pecan Products visit www.elizabethspecans.com.