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April 28, 2017

With 20 years experience growing food, farmers Juan Pablo Altamirano and Pedro Peñalver Fernández saw great potential in the chia business, a crop introduced from Central America to Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia. Until the new millennium Chia was not well known outside Mexico, where it is believed the little seed originates.

Seven years ago the two entrepreneurs started growing chia in Argentina but moved production to Bolivia three years ago. “The land in Santa Cruz, Bolivia is better than Argentina and Paraguay for chia, “ says Juan Pablo. “The climate is more stable, there is no frost at harvest, no rain when the chia is in flower, the conditions are just better overall”. Quality seeds, efficiency and traceability helped them establish a name in the market. Soon all of the largest chia traders started doing business with them.

Attracted by the high demand for quinoa, Juan Pablo and Pedro also decided to grow the healthy grain in the lowlands of Santa Cruz. Bolivian Royal Quinoa grows in summer in the Altiplano at over 4,000 mts above sea level. In the winter months they planted a variety with smaller seeds and less saponin that adapted well.

In March 2013 the dynamic duo decided to start GoldFoods USA, which operates out of Miami.  “We were selling our products to other countries, not directly to the US. We saw an opportunity in a market lacking quinoa and chia of our quality”.

The lab report required for entry the chia into the EU demonstrates not only an insignificant level of contaminants, GoldFoods grows its chia in virgin soil from land found in remote areas, but the presence of all the essential nutrients. And the content of Omega 3 fatty acids in the samples from Bolivia provided by GoldFoods is around 25% higher than in chia from the other countries. “Not all chia seeds have the same fat isolation levels. The consumer doesn’t know this. To them, all chia looks the same, but they are very different”.

“The nutritional value of our quinoa is also good and has less saponin providing a sweeter taste. This is what sets us apart”, says Juan Pablo. GoldFoods is the only company that grows, harvests, processes, stores, exports and imports chia and quinoa.

“Since we have been producing chia for several years, we have already overcome the challenges that new growers face. Unlike many new growers and companies in the market, what helps us is that we are experienced farmers. We have been in agriculture for 25 years and exporters for 10 years”. The challenge now is to build up reputation and clientele in the US.

GoldFoods has a strong presence in Europe and Australia. “In Europe, we work with Royal Ingredients, our partner. In the US, our largest retail client is TJ Max”. Currently, the firm is finalizing contracts in the US with a large supermarket chain in the Southeast, a cruise line based in South Florida and another company in the Northeast to secure a firm presence.

Nowadays competition is tough with many newcomers offering chia and quinoa. The price of quinoa has been volatile. The same happened to chia a couple of years ago. How does GoldenFoods handle these price fluctuations? “We grow, harvest, process, and export our chia to the United States”, says Juan Pablo.  “We import it ourselves. By controlling and managing every aspect of production, sales and distribution we are better able to withstand the volatility of the market. In fact, we are the only company we know that can do that. Eighty percent of our quinoa comes from our own lands. We own our equipment. We manage our own logistics. We own our processing plants and storage facilities. The rest of the market is divided into growers, exporters and importers who depend on outside factors that affect the prices”.

Currently GoldFoods sells 5,000 tons of chia per year. The cost (at time of print) of organic chia was US$5,400 per ton and US$3,400 for conventional seeds. The company produces 3,000 tons of quinoa a year, selling it for US$3,400 per ton. “Last year the quinoa sold for US$7,300”.

In a few years Juan Pablo and his partner Pedro see GoldFoods becoming one of the main providers of organic and natural foods from South America to the US and beyond. “We want to be the biggest and most important producers of these type of goods. There is no company like us right now on the market. You can grow the product. You can sell the product. You can import the product. But it’s not easy to do it all”.

In North America GoldFoods attends the East and West Natural Food Expos and the Americas Food and Beverage Show; in Europe Food Ingredients and BIOFACH and SEOUL FOOD in Asia.

Currently only 30% of the company’s production is certified organic. They would like to offer 100% organic but it is not possible, because there is not enough certified land available. “The organic market is growing exponentially. What is needed for more organic production quite frankly is seriousness, responsibility and commitment. We aim to increase our organic production to 50%”, says Juan Pablo.

“Right now chia and quinoa are specialty products. There are many speculators that come in when the price is high, but then leave when the price drops”. Juan Pablo expects the situation to continue like this for several years. “As the market matures, the number of growers, exporters and importers will level off, leaving only the serious players”.

Source: Gold Foods USA unveils chia, quinoa at BioFach


April 28, 2017

Introducing a new feature with all news related to chia, the tiny slavia hispanica white and black seed. If you are a chia producer, processor or trader and would like to contribute to CHIA WORLD please contact wbeaumont@organicwellnessnews.com

Organic & Wellness News’s Adriana Michael spoke withJuan Pablo Altamirano GoldFoods USA co-founder and direct chia supplier about the current market for chia seeds, issues and opportunities.

AM: When OWN started promoting chia seeds, there were no other b2b media around with any information about the tiny seeds. Only one brand in North America was offering chia seeds taken from the original source in Acatic Jalisco Mexico to be grown in Argentina and Paraguay.  One firm was selling them in the Chilean local market. That was over ten years ago. Now there is a boom.  Demand for chia is everywhere. How many primary producers are currently offering chia for the international trade?

JPA: There are many new farmers and exporters who entered the business after the 2013 boom.  High chia prices encouraged these new competitors, who didn’t understand the market and they produced more chia than the normal demand could buy.  Prices dropped considerably, reducing the amount of chia planted in the 2015 season.

Currently in South America there are about 10 Bolivian suppliers, which represent 80% of the country’s production. In Argentina there are about 5, which also control operations in the neighboring countries.  Paraguay has 3 producers, which represent more than 60% of the total production.  The situation in Peru is radically different since the exporters generally buy chia in Bolivia and Paraguay and re-export it from there.

AM: The Chia Co. in Australia claimed to be the largest producer and exporter of chia seeds, although not certified organic. Do you think this is the case today? Have you an estimate of the total production of chia seeds in South America for this campaign? And in Central America?

JPA: The leading producers are found in South America.  Some of Paraguay’s companies handle large volumes.  Other Argentine and Bolivian companies have been able to differentiate themselves by offering a large volume of high quality chia with safety certifications and large investments in certified organic plants.

AM: In the Spring 2015 edition of OWN you stated that laboratory tests have shown the best chia growing in South America comes from Bolivia, in particular Sta Cruz.

JPA: Normally, chia produced in Bolivia has more stable nutritional and microbiological value than the chia produced in other South American countries because of the climate.  In Bolivia, there is less precipitation than Paraguay in the winter when chia is harvested and no frost.  In Argentina, the quality is comparable in years when there is no frost. However, this doesn’t happen regularly.  That is the main reason why many Argentine companies have invested in Bolivian crops.

AM: Early this year only 30% of your chia production was certified organic. Does this proportion reflect demand in the market, is the number increasing or do you see now more demand for conventional chia with higher volumes going to the large conventional food companies?

JPA: GoldFoods USA keeps a 30 per cent participation of organic production. Even though we are aware that the demand points toward the organic sector, considering the price level for organic chia at this moment, the additional value compared with the conventional does not compensate the reduction of production under the organic system and its higher production costs. There is more manual work in the organic system, more lab tests and certification payments. The existing gap should be more than $2/kilo between organic and conventional chia and the current gap is around $1/kilo.

AM: There have been previous attempts to create an association of chia producers, like those for other crops such as coffee, quinoa and sugar. How feasible has it been to create such an organization?

JPA: Fortunately, after much progress, the agricultural exporters of Bolivian chia joined to create a consortium of agro-exporters, including the leading agro-exporting companies in this sector.  Their common goal is the integration of the productive chain with the cleaning and packaging processes, providing the best chia seeds in the market with high quality standards.

AM: In June this year you had a meeting with other key South American players in the chia market Could you indicate a couple of topics discussed and outcome of this encounter?

JPA: Exporters from Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Ecuador participated in the meeting. Topics evaluated included

* Stock 2014

* Crop size 2015

* Evolution in the European and North American demand

* Emerging markets with strong participation: Australia, Japan, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia

AM: In most food ingredients, there is a tendency for commoditization. It is happening with quinoa. How is the situation with chia?

JPA: Chia barely follows the commoditization trend because the market is still small and knows little about the high quality standards demanded by large industry, and the supply is unstable.

AM: Are there any innovations introduced in the chia farming, processing? What type of crop rotation is applied to chia seed production?

JPA: The agronomic aspects of handling supplies have improved by becoming more environmentally friendly. The tasks of harvesting and drying the chia plant has been modified to guarantee the absence of pesticides. Chia is most frequently rotated with sesame, dry beans, corn, and sorghum.

We are working hard on educating the public about the benefits of this millennial seed. CHIA PEARL. It is one of our new products, which has received a great response. It is distributed as a plant-based OMEGA-3 supplement with all of the benefits of being 100% vegan.  Defatted chia flour is becoming recognized as a tremendous source of protein (25%), a superfood containing all of the essential amino acids. It is worth mentioning that quinoa captured the market as a gluten-free cereal with more protein (14%) than any other cereal.  With regard to chia, it is valued for its high level of Omega-3 and -6, but it has not yet been recognized as a valuable source of protein, even though it contains almost double that of quinoa

AM: Not all chia seeds are sold under the same price. There are different product qualities. What are the parameters for price variation? How do you recognize a high quality chia?

JPA: The prices vary greatly, depending mostly on the origin.  Bolivian chia, in general, is more expensive than chia grown in Paraguay.  Argentine chia prices are slightly lower than Bolivia’s.  At the same time, the prices within the country vary depending on the quality and certification.  Obviously, clean plants with quality standards such as HACCP or ISO 22000 are valued higher.

Normally, all Grade A chia seeds have between 28%-32% oil, and of that oil, 60% is omega-3 (alfalinolenic) and 17% is omega-6 (linolenic). To be classified as Grade A chia, seeds must have the following qualities:

* Purity, more than 99.90%

* Fat content, close to 30%

* Low microbiological and aflatoxin levels

* Bright color, between black, gray and white.  Brown seeds aren’t normally good quality chia.  They appear brown when they are not ripe or when there is too much moisture during the maturation process, which causes an increase in microbiological activity resulting in high levels of mycotoxins and reducing its shelf life.

AM: How do you see the near future of the chia market as a result of the boom? What are the challenges ahead and what are the advantages South American suppliers have if compared with other countries?

JPA: In the near future, the chia market will return to normal prices, even though at the actual level, the price is below production costs. It’s important to understand that the price point should be more than $3.50/kilo in order to provide chia with high quality standards, since the yields are not very high and the yields of plants processed for 99.95% purity are even lower. This is the main reason why the crop size in the three most important chia-producing countries of South America for 2015 has been reduced by 80% from the previous season. At this time of year when chia is being harvested, the first estimates indicate that production for 2015 will not exceed more than 10,000MT in South America.  This represents only 15% of the volume obtained in 2014.  If this is confirmed and the demand rises steadily, there will be a chia shortage in 2016. Chia prices should reach a profitable level again.  This is necessary and obligatory to be able to supply a growing world market with quality, responsibility, and continuity.  A large investment is required to make this happen in order to satisfy an increasingly demanding market that is clearly growing.


April 28, 2017
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Gold Foods USA will unveil its line of premium organic and natural chia and quinoa products for the first time in Europe at BioFach 2015 starting Wednesday in Nuremberg, Germany.

The Gold Foods USA will be featured at the Natural Crops booth – Hall 2, booth 241 – at the three-day trade event showcasing organic foods and products from around the world. Natural Crops is the European arm of Gold Foods USA.

“Our line of products showcases chia seeds and quinoa at their purest. While many companies in the marketplace speed up the maturation process of these superfoods, Gold Foods works with farmers to ensure that its chia and quinoa are as close to what Mother Nature produces as possible,” said Maria Amparo Yuste, spokeswoman for Gold Foods USA.

Gold Foods USA partners with farmers in the Santa Cruz region of Bolivia to harvest chia and quinoa. The subtropical climate of eastern Bolivia features limited rainfalls and warm temperatures practically year round.

These conditions give the GoldFoods line of seeds many of their precious qualities including high amounts of omega-3 and omega-6. The company’s chia and quinoa are considered premium because farmers allow them to ripen natural. Other brands on the market often harvest crops before they’re ready and use artificial environments to advance the maturation process.

“Chia and quinoa are the leading superfoods and to ensure their fullest nutritional benefits, our studies show they must remain clean and untouched by artificial methods,” Yuste said.

Gold Foods USA is featured in the latest issue of Organic Wellness News. Unlike many companies that sell chia and quinoa, Gold Foods is one of the few that also manage and oversee the harvest, production and export of these highly sought-after superfoods.


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Gold Foods is the main producer of Organic and Conventional Super Foods in the region.
We manage all the production chain, from cultivation with strict care and supervision from our experienced agronomist team.

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