SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Nebraska (AP) — An Israeli company is making its first production foray in the United States by buying a soybean processing plant in northeast Nebraska.
The wholly owned U.S. subsidiary of Solbar Industries Ltd. is buying the former Green Planet Farms plant in South Sioux City for $16 million, pending federal regulatory review.
Greg Horn, president of Oakdale, Minnesota-based Solbar USA, said Thursday that the company expects to invest $10 million more for equipment.
Solbar must hire 40 workers to begin operation by Oct. 1, Horn said. Sixty more workers could be added within a year, he said, if there's enough product demand.
Solbar will contract for locally grown soybeans that will be crushed into soybean flour. The plant will process a soy protein isolate, which is used in nutrition bars, sports drinks and vegetarian foods.
The plant's being in the middle of soybean country helped Solbar settle on South Sioux City, Horn said. He also praised the city's infrastructure to support the plant and easy access to rail lines and interstates 29 and 90 for distribution.
The plant is only 2 years old and comes with 40 acres (16 hectares) of land that could be used for expansion, Horn said.
Green Planet Foods had started up production in fall of 2008, which proved to be bad timing as U.S. and world markets reeled from the recession.
Green Planet officials said their focus on organic products hurt as the organic market tightened and said the company's lack of capital didn't allow continued operation of the plant.
Horn said Solbar USA is anticipating $40 million in sales this year, including products from the Nebraska plant. He said parent company Solbar Industries Ltd. is expecting total worldwide sales of $250 million in 2010. The publicly owned company is traded on the Tel Aviv exchange.
Solbar Industries, which specializes in soy proteins, is based in Ashdod, Israel, and has plants there and in Ningbo, China.
Solbar USA has been selling soybean products from the two other plants, Horn said, but the Nebraska plant will be its first in the United States.