SOUTH BRUNSWICK — The family-owned and operated SLT Foods Inc., a food distribution company that serves the United States and Canada, has found a permanent home in South Brunswick.
Established in 1994, SLT Food imports basmati rice, tea, lentils, coconut water, herbal products and other ethnic food products and distributes them to wholesale clubs, grocery stores and other food outlets, according to information provided by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA).
In addition, SLT Foods also offers its own blend of rice — Heritage Select — which mixes brown rice, vegetable jambalaya, Mexican-style zesty cilantro, rosemary olive oil and basmati rice. Heritage Select has been picked up by major food retailers throughout the country, including Whole Foods, Fresh Market and Meijer Inc., according to the EDA.
Other brands distributed by SLT Foods include Khazana Basmati Rice products and Tetley Tea.
“Our business’ success is not just the story of a minority-owned business flourishing here in New Jersey,” said SLT Foods Owner Sandip Patel, who runs the business with his wife, Sajel Patel, and his brother, Senjay Patel. “It’s also the story of the growing culinary sophistication of the American consumer. We are thankful to the EDA for its support as we continue to grow and reach even more consumers.”
To accommodate its remarkable growth, SLT Foods Inc. bought a 75,600-square-foot facility in South Brunswick earlier this year. The purchase was supported by a Santander Bank loan through the EDA’s Premier Lender Program, with a 32 percent EDA participation.
The Premier Lender Program lowers the cost of borrowing for small businesses through the EDA’s alliance with more than two dozen banking partners. It offers low-cost financing with a quick turnaround time from approval to closing, while the EDA’s exposure by participating in or guaranteeing a portion of a loan reduces the lender’s risk, according to EDA. Businesses can use this financing for fixed assets, working capital or the refinancing of other bank debt.
When SLT Foods was approved for its loan in February of 2015, the company had nine employees in New Jersey. Its workforce has now more than doubled to 20 employees, according to the EDA.
“Family-owned and operated businesses like SLT Foods serve a niche within the community while at the same time create localized jobs,” EDA Chief Executive Officer Melissa Orsen said in a prepared statement.
Orsen visited SLT Foods on Dec. 8 as part of the EDA’s ongoing efforts to facilitate awareness of the programs it offers to support small- and mid-sized businesses and not-for-profits.
The EDA’s activities to promote its programs in support of small businesses are based on the theme “EDA Was Here.” The campaign and new social media presence highlight how organizations like SLT Foods have used the EDA’s financing programs to overcome challenges, meet their needs and grow.