SK Food International began as a family company in 1990 after founders David and Beverly Skyberg saw a niche opportunity to market non-GMO, identity-preserved, organic food ingredients. David Skyberg drew on his agribusiness background to create a family business, believing that organic commodities would be an important growth sector within the food industry. Unlike many food ingredient companies, SK Food International was established first and foremost as an exporter.
Before the words organic and non-GMO became household terms, SK Food International was selling organic sunflower kernel, cereals and flax into Western Europe, and non-GMO and organic soybeans, dry edible beans and cereal grains into Japan. Over time, they’ve expanded into additional markets, now selling into more than 10 countries globally. They currently offer a multitude of products, from pulses to soybeans to ancient grains, all processed to the end user’s specifications.
Their offerings have increased since SK Food International has transitioned from a family owned company into a ‘legacy’ brand under the ownership of Healthy Food Ingredients, LLC. SK Food International still markets their products under the popular SK Food International brand.
Healthy Food Ingredients (HFI) encompasses the brands of Hesco/Dakota Organic Products, Suntava, Heartland Flax and SK Food International. Combining several companies under one umbrella has given SK Food International additional products to offer to the international marketplace, says Jennifer Tesch, Chief Marketing Officer at Healthy Food Ingredients.
“We see it as a fantastic opportunity to expand our portfolio to existing customers and into new channels,” said Tesch.
Tesch, along with Aaron Skyberg, are siblings that have been at SK Food International for 20 and 16 years, respectively. Aaron Skyberg serves as Healthy Food Ingredients’ Vice President of International Sales, primarily focusing on building and maintaining relationships with customers of HFI products. He often travels internationally to further exports under the SK Food International brand. Aaron also represents HFI within the U.S. Soybean Export Council and the Northern Food Grade Soybean Association. Both Skyberg and Tesch have a passion for healthy, organic food and have enjoyed watching the growth of the non-GMO and identity-preserved food ingredient industry from within a company that was started by their parents.
HFI has completed many certifications and adds more as the industry evolves. They currently offer food ingredients that are USDA Organic, Non-GMO, Identity-Preserved, Gluten-Free and Kosher. They also carry the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) certification, a high level certification that brings multiple global food safety requirements under one certificate program, such as the BRC Global Standards and Safe Quality Food (SQF).
When HFI first acquired the GFSI certification, it was not well known internationally. Most exporters did not carry GFSI certification, and most importers and international customers weren’t knowledgeable about it. Recently, however, Tesch says the demand for GFSI certification is changing. It has been a boon for long time importers of the SK Food International brand to discover that their purchased product already fulfills the new standards of big-box customers.
HFI attributes their success to their premium quality ingredients together with their customer service. Tesch uses the mantra “qualify, qualify, qualify” when entering into contracts with importers and manufacturers. HFI will first vet potential partners through the USDA’s Foreign Ag Service, overseas trade offices and third-party portfolios. HFI’s partners are usually in it for the long term – many of their importers have been customers for more than two decades. HFI also makes a point to visit their customers at least 1-3 times per year, believing that face-to-face meetings are what truly solidify relationships.
“It takes a while to establish a strong channel,” said Tesch, “there’s a lot of gained trust to make it a win-win, mutually beneficial relationship.”
For more information on the SK Food International brand and Healthy Food Ingredients, visit https://www.HFIfamily.com/.