A joint venture between Korean investors and North Dakota beef producers plans to process 1,250 head of cattle per day in central North Dakota, with most to be exported.
“This is a big deal economically,” said Roger Hoyum, the consultant managing the project for Kim & Price Corp. “This is a significant opportunity for new wealth to be infused into the strong economy in North Dakota.”
The company gets its name from Jack Dae Soo Kim, a South Korean businessman with a commodities background, and Bill Price, a North Dakota rancher who exports cattle to the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan. They are looking at sites around Bismarck, Mandan, Jamestown and two rural locations for a processing facility that they hope to have in operation in 2012.
“North Dakota is the ideal place to produce quality beef,” Kim said. “North Dakota is the best state with high genetic quality.”
The facility, to be called North Dakota Beef Exporters, would employ about 500 people and export 60 percent of its products to South Korea and other Asian markets with the rest being sold in the United States. They hope to settle on a site within the next three to five months, and said they were considering existing structures as well as building a new plant.
Hoyum said the plant would be a “zero-discharge facility” and use methods to reduce the impact on the local environment.
“The facility we’re talking about building is not the facility that immediately pops into someone’s head,” Hoyum said.
The total project investment would be between $80 million and $100 million, he said.
Hoyum’s company, JDI Contracts Inc., is a Minnesota construction and management consultant that handles industrial and commercial projects, including a recent environmental addition to the Coal Creek power plant near Stanton. They became involved in the beef project earlier this year.
Kim said that Korean consumers are more discerning about meat quality and more concerned about what part of the United States their beef comes from. The American beef industry produces mostly for domestic consumers and do not cater to foreign preferences, he said, and the North Dakota project would allow processors to control the quality of the product at each stage of production, from ranches to consumer products.
“We’ll be producing a totally different quality product,” Kim said.
Hoyum and Kim said the project originated with a 2006 North Dakota agricultural trade mission.
The group discussed their plans at a meeting of the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association in Bismarck on Wednesday.
“We feel it would be a positive opportunity for North Dakota producers,” said Scott Ressler, environmental services director for the association. “It’s an opportunity to increase our profits.”
Hoyum said the company has commitments for 450,000 head of cattle per year from North Dakota and surrounding states. Ressler said he expected state producers to adapt their operations for the increased demand.
(Reach reporter Christopher Bjorke at 250-8261 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)