Proposed Neb. beef plant to focus on South Korea

Farm Forum

SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. (AP) – A proposed Scottsbluff beef processing plant would focus on the South Korean market as part of the company’s unique business model, a company manager says.

General manager Keith DeHaan of Future Food Energy LLC told members of the Scottsbluff-Gering Rotary Club on Tuesday that the plant investors are in South Korea and want to take advantage of the growing demand for beef there. He said South Korea has limited natural resources but a blossoming economy.

The country’s limited supply of domestic beef is auctioned and sold to butcher shops and restaurants, DeHaan said. Rising feed grain prices and the limited supply of land don’t allow the supply to meet the demand, he said.

The company investors have been seeking a pipeline of U.S. beef of a higher grade than is generally sold in this country. DeHaan said the investors want to construct their own beef processing plant, allowing them control over the product.

The 358,000-square-foot plant would use reclaimed heat in a process DeHaan said eliminates the odor commonly associated with meatpacking facilities.

The company has offered to buy 43 acres of city land for $10,000 an acre. A deal hasn’t been finalized yet.

The Scottsbluff area is attractive for several reasons, he said. The area has several producers that can offer the plant grass-fed beef the investors prefer. Also, Scottsbluff’s wastewater treatment plant has the capacity needed by the plant, DeHaan said.

The investors wish to establish a plant culture that fits their South Korean values, DeHaan said. He described it as a place “where the employees are treated like owners, like family.”

Workers would be salaried, he said, with starting pay of $13 an hour and full benefits.

The proposed plant would open with a workforce of about 350 people and would rise to perhaps 600 people at peak production, he said.