Germany’s Naturkost Übelhör, a world leader in high quality organic ingredients such as Sachia® chia seed and chia oil, is celebrating 25 years commitment to organic cultivation and the organic industry. The firm was founded by entrepreneur Josef Übelhör in 1987 to market organic products from Demeter certified farmers growing crops in Canada. Over the years it has experienced consistent growth as reliable trader of grains, pulses and high quality organic certified ingredients in Germany and the world.

Significant positive changes have taken place in the company since Christian Übelhör took over from his father three years ago. Mr Übelhör has set up a long term plan:  “make the company fit for the future, have strong partners, listen to our clients’ current needs and reinforce the firm’s reputation as a reliable supplier of high quality ingredients”.

A market leader in the organic sector, NKU imports over 200 organic products from more than 30 countries all over the world to supply customers in the food industry, wholesalers and bakeries in over 20 countries. In 2011, NKU gained above-average growth in all fields and product lines, increased its workforce, operation facilities and corporate image and communications. An online shop was started to market chia under the brand Sachia® and two distinct presentations, one for the trade, the other for end consumers.

Chia was considered a novel food in Europe and not allowed for commercialization until 2009. Chia seed contains high percentages of fibre, protein, and Omega-3 and Omega-6 ALA essential fatty acids, and is rich in antioxidant nutrients, making it the perfect ingredient for the food, supplements, cosmetics and pet food industries.

NKU was the first trader of organic certified chia, cultivated in Mexico, chia’s country of origin. All phases of production are supervised, from sowing to harvesting to quality inspection of seeds upon their arrival at the warehouse. NKU is one of the few companies that has the authorization for import and marketing the little seed rich in omega 3 within the EU and holds an exclusive authorization for organic chia seeds. The regulation currently allows chia seeds for human consumption to a maximum 5% for bread production.

In 2006, the company founded a subsidiary in Mexico, Naturkost de México, to supervise the cultivation of Sachia® seed and guarantee the procurement of raw materials in Mexico and Latin America. Sachia® operations have now expanded with producers from Guatemala and most recently with Bolivia.

In order to ensure the highest level of sustainability, fair trade practices and to protect their local farmers, NKU does not import any raw materials that are locally available. “I believe that issues like social responsibility and sustainability will become more important in the organic sector, as well as in other EU regulations,” Mr Übelhör said.

NKU travels to confirm the organic processes of the companies with which they do business. With particular attention to quality, sustainability and an adherence to fair trade guidelines (like fair wages and the prohibition of child labour), NKO has established long-lasting partnerships with suppliers based on a philosophy of responsibility and mutual trust. They also implement their own quality control by verifying certifications and carrying out product analysis in their own laboratories. NKU products carry organic certifications such as Bioland, Naturland, USDA NOP and OKO-Garantie BCS.

In the next five years, Mr Übelhör has a vision for NKU as a strong partner for imports and exports, as well as a leading supplier of services in relation to raw materials and semi-finished products from certified-organic cultivation. Searching for special ingredients that meet client needs––and anticipate future market trends––remains a key aspect of the firm’s business.

With multiple locations, state-of-the-art warehouses, precise logistics and fresh ideas, and their thriving brand of Sachia chia, Christian Übelhör and his team look forward the the future as they celebrate the company’s 25th anniversary and welcome the food industry to BioFach, Nuremberg.