Got flax? ND company finds national success with flax seed
GOODRICH — When she started selling flax seed in 1999, Stephanie Stober did it through craft shows and home-and-garden events. If the phone rang once a week for an order, Stober thought she was doing well.
Now, Flax USA products are sold at Sam’s Club, Costco, SuperValu, Kroger, TJ Maxx and Marshall’s stores nationwide.
“To accomplish what we have — not only nationwide, but oversees — it’s pretty amazing,” said Stober, who won an Enterprising Women of the Year award from Enterprising Women magazine this year.
Stober, who is president of Flax USA, owns the company with her husband, John. Their children are also involved in the family-run business, which started in 2001 on a farm near Goodrich that has been in the family since 1901.
In addition to whole or cold-milled golden flax seed, organic golden flax seed, flax hull lignans and flax oil, Flax USA also makes cold-milled flax for cats, dogs and horses.
Two years ago, the company started selling flaxmilk. The product is now sold nationally in Kroger stores, a grocery retailer with fiscal 2012 sales of $96.8 billion, according to the company’s website.
“Flaxmilk is so different that people don’t know about it,” she said, adding that she encourages people to ask for it wherever they shop so stores can order it if they don’t carry it.
Flax USA was looking for new ideas, and Stober said the company felt there was a need for flaxmilk, which is free of lactose, gluten and soy.
Flax seed is the best plant sources of Omega-3, Stober said. There’s also evidence flax seed may help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes, according to the WebMD website.
Connie Udby of Bismarck eats ground flax seed daily. She mixes it into her breakfast cereal and has used it to bake cookies and muffins.
“It’s a way to make those types of foods healthier,” she said. “I like it. It has a natural, very subtle nutty flavor.”
She eats it for the health benefits and likes that it’s a natural product grown in North Dakota, she said.
Flaxmilk, which is shelf-stable for a year, doesn’t contain the fiber or lignans found in the seed, Stober said. Milled flax is shelf-stable for two years.
The Stobers grow golden flax seed on their 1,200-acre farm and purchase additional supplies from local producers. Stober said most farms grow brown flax seed, but that has a more bitter taste.
The cold-milling process also prevents the seed from losing its nutritional value, she said.
Flax USA’s products are also available at www.flaxusa.com, amazon.com and some other online retailers.