NDTO News Article

SK Food – a global player in a specialty market

Jennifer Tesch’s customers are very selective and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Tesch, marketing and sales director for SK Food International Inc. of Fargo, N.D., is in the business of providing buyers around the world with high quality and completely traceable grains, oilseeds and other ingredients.

Driving SK Food International’s success is a growing world demand for identity preserved foods that can be traced from the field to the consumer’s plate.

As Tesch explains it, consumers in the United States and throughout the world are becoming more health conscious and aware of the foods they eat. Food manufacturers are trying to meet that demand by offering more organic foods and other fare produced with high-quality, identity-preserved ingredients.

The U.S. market for organic foods is growing 14 percent annually, while traditional food sales are increasing by 3 percent, Tesch said.

SK Food International supplies a full line of identity preserved ingredients including dry beans, grains, seeds, soybeans, flours, instant powders and flakes, oils and sweeteners. The company recently added organic Soy ProFiber to its line of ingredients. Soy ProFiber – made from organic yellow soybeans and yellow soybean hulls – increases the nutritional value of bakery goods, pastas, beverages and many other food products.

Customers turn to SK Food International for ingredients that are certified organic or produced without the use of genetically modified seed.

“Our customers and the end users want to know where their food comes from,” Tesch said. “There is a lot of concern with food traceability and food safety and the market is responding.”

Other industries clamoring for identity preserved ingredients include pet food makers, the cosmetic industry and the pharmaceutical industry.

Tesch said SK Food International’s product line has increased more than threefold since the company’s start in 1990. The family owned business includes SK Food Specialty Processing, a Moorhead, Minn., plant that processes most of the company’s products.

Supplying the growing specialty market is big business for farmers in North Dakota and the region.

SK Food International works with more than 2,500 farmers in North America, primarily contracting with producers in North Dakota and neighboring states. The company contracts for the production of identity preserved crops of more than 20,000 acres a year.

“North Dakota ranks second in the United States in organic cropland acres,” Tesch said. “It shows what a strong connection we have to this market.”

North Dakota has about 145,000 acres of certified organic cropland, second only to California, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Export sales play a vital role in the company’s success, with about 50 percent of its identity preserved goods shipped to foreign buyers, Aaron Skyberg said.

“ Identity preserved ingredients are in high demand in many foreign countries, especially those that have experienced food safety threats,” said Aaron Skyberg, a member of SK Food International’s sales and marketing team. “While domestic demand is growing faster, we also expect growth in our export markets to continue.”

SK Food International regularly participates in foreign trade shows to promote its products and works with government agencies and the North Dakota Trade Office to expand its existing export markets and to find new ones, he said.

“We continually add and diversify our ingredient line as we see opportunities to be a one-stop, best value ingredient supplier for customers around the world,” Skyberg said.

More information about SK Food International can be found at www.skfood.com.