South Korean feed company sets its sights on US market

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Ruskpp
© GettyImages/Ruskpp
In an effort to expand its product market and feed production, Sunseo Omega 3 is working with the Nebraska Innovation Campus to establish a US headquarters.

The South Korean feed, livestock and food company is planning a series of feeding trials with researchers from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, said Dan Duncan executive director with the Nebraska Innovation Campus.

“We started working with them and connecting them with faculty,”​ he told FeedNavigator.

His group also helped the company develop a research plan and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development has been introducing the company to potential business partners. 

Although using Sunseo Omega 3 as a business name in the US, the company is called Green Grass Company, Ltd in South Korea, he added.

The move was of interest for Sunseo Omega 3 because of the role Nebraska plays in cattle production, said a company spokesperson.  

“Nebraska is one of the top manufacturers of beef and a prime location for many of the local ingredients for the animal feed,” ​the spokesperson told FeedNavigator. “As it is also located in the center of the state, it would benefit us logistically when we will be ready to expand to other states.”

“We are planning to base our headquarters here as well as a feed mixing plant and an R&D center in Nebraska,” ​she said.

The company has run feeding trials with its products in Korea, however, it also is planning to run several in the US in concert with the university.

Innovation campus

The Nebraska Innovation Campus is a 132 acre, non-profit site intended to connect the University of Nebraska with the private sector with the aim of developing economic activity. Of the intended, 2.2m square feet of built-out space, 380,000 square feet has been leased and another 80,000 square feet is currently in construction.

“We have a requirement that anyone who comes has to have some kind of relationship with the university,” ​said Duncan. “The minimum would be a significant number of internships for students and desire to do more.”

The site includes several building with offices, lab space, grain houses, a wet lab incubator, maker space and legacy facilities, he said.

“We would have light manufacturing capabilities on the campus, but we’d mostly be the place where prototyping would occur,” ​he added.

“The goal is to take faculty and students and drag them a little toward company culture and take companies and drag them toward university culture,” ​he said. “Where those overlaps occur we can do some interesting things that neither the companies or university could do alone.”

The work with Sunseo came out of an established relationship with other companies in South Korea and the Foundation for Agricultural Commercial Transfer (FACT), said Duncan.

“From an Innovation Campus standpoint what we did was recruit them, connected them with people who can help them obtain their business objectives and really provided a link to a lot of services,”​ he said. “It’s not easy for foreign companies to locate in the US.”

Ongoing research and market plans

Sunseo works with proprietary feed ingredients, said Duncan. An initial project involving the university and the company was to establish that they had regulatory clearance to use their feed in the US.

The company currently is focused on corn-free feeds for cattle, dairy cows, swine and poultry that seek to produce a specific ratio of omega 3 fatty acid and omega 6 fatty acids in the animal proteins being generated, it reported.

“We will start off with a research project in validating the efficacy of our feed products in the US livestock,”​ the spokesperson said. “We will commence with a beef project in June followed by dairy, and hogs within this year – after this research, we will continue to look into ways to work with the researchers to show what effects omega 3 has on the body (as well as the balance between omega 3 and omega 6).”

The omega 3 to omega 6 ratio in animal feed and the produced animal proteins are of interest for the company because of the potential implication for human health, she said. Over time, the ratio in adults can become imbalanced because of diet.

“People are wary of consuming omega 3 through fish due to the high mercury and intake of omega 3 through supplements are extremely limited as the body absorbs a very tiny fraction,”​ she claimed. “The only way to battle diseases through food is through food, and thus we have come up with a new formula that will increase the omega 3 content in meat and a less than 1:4 ratio in milk. We would like to use the US market to supply more of these healthy products to more people.”

Sunseo has been bringing a portion of their feed formulation to the US for use and supplementing it with local ingredients, she said. However, that process is not expected to continue.

“We will slowly reduce the dependency from Korea and work with all local ingredients from the US,” ​the spokesperson said. “We are currently looking into possibilities to work with regional suppliers for this.”

The move also is designed to help support the company’s expansion plans, she said. Looking internationally, there is an interest in producing feed for cattle that would see a market in South Korea.

“Koreans love US beef, and they're very becoming very health-conscious,” ​she said. “We are currently selling omega 3 beef in Korea (with Korean beef) but the demand is just too high.”

Once the company is able to develop the market for the generated products in South Korea, there is interest in expanding the market, she said.

“We also have buyers in Japan, China and Southeast Asia asking us to provide our beef to them as well. With that, we will expand into the European markets as well as the local market,”​ she added.

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