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From Monett to the World

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International Dehydrated Foods Inc. is doing something other companies may only be dreaming of: growing its international sales.

In fiscal 2010, which ended Oct. 31, the Springfield-based exporter grew its international orders by 26 percent compared to 2009 – a year that itself recorded a 19 percent uptick in export sales.

The company’s efforts were recently recognized by the Missouri Department of Economic Development when it named IDF the 2010 Exporter of the Year. The award was presented to the company at the 52nd annual Missouri Governor’s Conference held in Kansas City Sept. 15–17.

“It’s a great honor,” said Kurt Hellweg, IDF president and CEO. “There is a lot going on behind the scenes. There is more going on than just making a product; it’s also about getting it to (the customer).”

Hellweg said the company’s international sales have offset what would otherwise be a dip in total sales. He said total sales were nearly $76 million in fiscal 2009, and just above $76 million in fiscal 2010.

IDF is known for its chicken-based products, which include dried meat, broth and fat powders, as well as liquid broth and fat products. The ingredients can be used in a variety of food items such as ramen noodles, frozen meals or soups. Domestically, IDF customers include Campbell’s, Progresso, Knoll’s and Uncle Ben’s.

According to Mike Scabarozi, vice president of manufacturing for IDF in the Monett facility, the company exports products to 35 countries. Though he declined to provide specific figures, he said the Monett facility ships out millions of pounds of its food products per year.

Hellweg said the company typically loads trucks – which he feels are more flexible and reliable than trains – that deliver to a variety of ports including Seattle and Long Island, to be boarded on ocean-going vessels. He said that IDF occasionally employs air-freight to meet customer needs.

And those needs are quite often country-specific. China, for example, will not allow IDF to use chickens that come from states where cases of bird-flu have been documented. Additionally, IDF trucks may not even travel through those at-risk states.

Hellweg said improved economic conditions around the world are helping to drive demand for more protein-based products in places such as Asia and Latin America.

Hellweg said the company has roughly 30 international brokers who reach out to its customers by attending relevant business conferences or seminars in their designated areas and demonstrating its products and applications.

Becky Rademacher, IDF’s executive assistant for sales and marketing, had the privilege of notifying the company’s international brokers of the statewide award.

“When I sent the e-mail to our international folks, they came back and said that they were proud to represent us – that’s the kind of thing that pulls a lot of weight,” Rademacher said.[[In-content Ad]]

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