The Korean Government Places the Priority on the Globalization of Korean Food
Kimchi, ‘Bulgogi’ (Korean barbecue), and ‘Bibimbap’(rice mixed with vegetables and beef) are the representative Korean dishes widely loved by many people around the globe. These dishes are attracting the palates of foreigners with their abundant nutrients and unique tastes. Few things are better than trying a country’s food for those who want to experience the culture of a different country. So just having Korean dishes can be a good experience itself to start to get to know about Korea.
On this understanding, the Korean government has been focusing on efforts to globalize Korean food spreading its virtues to more foreigners. Recently, the government has revealed the detailed directions of activities to globalize Korean cuisine. The Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MIFAFF) announced its driving strategies for globalizing Korean food at the Lotte Hotel on April 6, 2009. The government’s overall plan is to make Korean food would more available in overseas countries and it aims to do this by specifically increasing the number of Korean restaurants abroad up to 40,000 whilst promoting 100 Korean food-brands as premium cuisine by a target date of 2017.
In addition, the promoting group for globalizing Korean food - a joint group of private and governmental sectors that is made up of experts from ministries offices concerned - was inaugurated on June 5 this year. The steps taken by the promoting group to globalize Korean food involve building up infrastructure, cultivating experts, supporting research and development (R&D), revitalizing corporate investment - all with the focus of promoting Korean food culture. These efforts will start from this year through 2013.
Pioneering Export Markets for Korean Foodstuffs for Business Use
Exporting foodstuff for business use is also considered to be promising as it can open up new markets. The size of the food-service industry is growing worldwide and, accordingly, the market size of foodstuffs for business use is increasing rapidly. And unlike the market for the foodstuffs for home use, the market for the foodstuffs for business use is more open to imported foodstuffs. Once new markets for the foodstuffs for business use are opened up, the mass supply of Korean foodstuffs to the world will be possible. Moreover, export of fresh agriproducts has decreased recently as part of the total export amount, while the export of processed foods is growing. These are the reasons of why the government aims to focus on exporting foodstuffs.
The markets for foodstuffs are closely linked to the development of the food-service industry. These markets are densely formed around countries like the United States and Japan and South-East Asian countries with a good image including Korea itself. In the United States and Japan, foodstuff distributors such as the Sysco and Shidax and foodstuffs stores such as the Restaurant Depot and Metro Cash and Carry are already well developed. Therefore, Korean foodstuffs are likely to advance into Japan where its people have similar eating habits as Koreans and the food service industry is highly developed, into the United States where many Korean reside, and into South-East Asian countries where Korean agriproducts have a good image.
Korean foodstuffs that have a huge potential in these regional markets include sauces like ‘Gochujang’ (red pepper paste), ‘Ganjang’(soy sauce), and ‘Deonjang’ (soybean paste) and seasonings for kimchi, Bulgogi, and ‘Topokki’(spicy rice cakes), and kimchi for cooking. And foodstuffs that can contribute to commercializing Korean foods include ‘Samgyetang’ (ginseng chicken soup), ‘Miyeokguk’(seaweed soup), ‘Yukgaejang’ (spicy beef and leek soup),‘Namul’ (cooked eatable wild herbs), and ‘Sikhye’(rice punch), along with competitive foodstuffs as a fresh agriproduct are enokidake (or golden needle mushroom), king oyster mushroom, dried laver, and rice (especially processed cooked rice).
Forming the Korea Foodstuff Export Association
On April 17 this year the Korean government formed the Korean Foodstuff Export Association (KFEA) to aid the systematic development of the foodstuff-exporting industry to which it will give positive support. The KFEA is in charge of boosting the export of Korean food and agriproducts. Listed the main business activities of the KFEA are: exporting Korean agriproducts and commercializing export items to support restaurants and meal services; building up a joint distribution center to establish the foundations of distribution at home and abroad; and developing the export infrastructure including fostering overseas networks. Currently, 67 companies, which deal with export of foodstuffs - including the Asia-Pacific Foodstuffs Trading, CJ Freshway, Mushheart, and Kooksoondang - have joined the association.
In the future, the KFEA will play an essential role in reinvigorating foodstuff export by constructing a stable supply system through the network among its members who are set on making inroads into new markets abroad. Given that, currently, some 9,500 Korean companies have a presence in around 90 countries worldwide and the number of Korean restaurants overseas is 11,000 the KFEA is painting a rosy picture for foodstuff export.
Hwang Min-yeong, the Chief of the KFEA, said: “Given the trend of the times what with the food-service industry growing apace, adopting a policy that encompasses the foodstuff sector in the export of agriproducts is a wise decision. We, along with each member, will make full efforts to realize the globalization of Korean food and so to work tirelessly to expand the export markets for foodstuffs to the size of USD$ 3.5b by 2012.”
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