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NDTO News Article

Agribusinesses Sign Major Korean Sales Contract

FARGO, N.D. – Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple today announced that three local companies are parties to major contracts to supply 2009 food-grade soybeans to South Korean soy food importers.

The purchase agreements call for SB&B Foods of Casselton, Brushvale Seed of Wahpeton-Breckenridge, SunOpta of Moorhead and Wisconsin-based DeLong Company to export about 275,000 bushels of identity preserved soybeans to members of the Korean Federation of Soybean-Curd Industry Cooperatives (KFSCIC).  The federation represents 12 Korean tofu-processing cooperatives.  The sales are valued at about $5 million.

“Last year, Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple led a trade mission to Korea that forged new and productive relationships for our soybean industry,” said Gov. John Hoeven. “We’re excited about today’s agreement and want to congratulation our soybean producers, the state and national soybean associations, our new Korean trade partners, and our North Dakota Trade Office for their energy and innovation.”

“These agreements are a testament to the companies that are supplying these value-added foods and are part of our larger effort in North Dakota to expand our global reach,” said Dalrymple. “These companies exemplify the drive that generates our state’s success in the international marketplace.”

The agreements also represent a move forward in U.S.-South Korea trade relations as it is the first major purchase of identity preserved soybeans by the South Korea’s private soy food industry.  For the first time, Agro and Fishery Trade Corp., South Korea’s state-run trading agency, has allocated part of its 2009 import quota to the cooperative of privately held food companies.  Identity preserved crops bring a premium price because they are grown under stringent protocols and can be tracked from the field to consumers’ plates.

“Two North Dakota Trade Office projects last year were a stepping stone to help initiate a change in South Korea imports which resulted in the contracts,” said Say Young Jo, the American Soybean Association’s country director in Seoul, Korea.

In March 2008, Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple led the Trade Office’s first ever trade mission to South Korea. Among the delegates were representatives from North Dakota’s food-grade soybean companies. With support from the American Soybean Association and the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, the three local food-grade soybean companies began business talks with members of the KFSCIC.

In September 2008, the Trade Office followed up on the mission by hosting 16 South Korean food company executives, including FSCIC Chairman Seon Youn Choi and Nam Hee Jun, president of FSCIC member company Incheon & Gyeonggi, who returned to North Dakota Wednesday to finalize the purchase agreements.

During their visit to North Dakota last year, the food company executives toured local soybean processing plants, they learned about North Dakota’s soybean production and quality advantages and met with local food-grade soybean producers. The “reverse trade mission” was supported by the American Soybean Association, the United Soybean Board, the Northern Food-Grade Soybean Association, the North Dakota Soybean Council, the North Dakota Department of Agriculture and the Northern Crops Institute.

“These companies are succeeding because they are dedicated to providing quality products and because they are willing to go the distance to grow their business,” Trade Office Executive Director Susan Geib said.

South Korea has a $1 trillion economy and 49 million consumers. It is the United States’ 7th largest trading partner and the 5th largest market for U.S. agricultural products.

A trade agreement reached between the United States and South Korea on June 30, 2007 awaits final approval by Congress.  The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that the trade agreement would reduce tariffs and tariff-rate quotas, generating an additional $10 billion in U.S. exports to South Korea. Under the trade agreement two-thirds of South Korea’s agricultural imports from the United States would become duty free.