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European Consumers Are Enamored with the Chewy Taste of King Oyster Mushrooms

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Mush M Plays a Pivotal Role in Exploration of European Markets
Flexibility in Packaging According to the Tastes of Consumers

Korean king oyster mushrooms are growing in popularity around the world. The exports are also
steadily increasing: from USD$10 million in 2010, to USD$11.31 million in 2011, and USD$12.5 million last year.
Korean king oyster mushrooms are especially well received in European markets - the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain. Nearly half of the total volume of king oyster mushrooms exported from Korea last year went to Europe.
Mush M, the leading exporter of Korean king oyster mushrooms, is playing an important
role in breaking into the European market. has met with Kim Il-joong,
president of Mush M, to listen to stories related to exporting Korean king oyster mushrooms.

Why are the exports of Korean king oyster mushrooms increasing?

Originally, king oyster mushrooms were mostly used in Asia (Japan, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, etc.) as an ingredient for soups and stir-fried dishes. In the past couple of years, however, mushrooms came into the spotlight around the world as a healthy food, and many Americans and Europeans became interested in the king oyster mushroom. As a result, the exports of Korean king oyster mushrooms have increased because the export markets were extended from Asia to the Americas and Europe.


We know that Mush M has contributed a lot to increase exports of the Korean king oyster mushroom. Can you tell us more about it?


With the participation of 20 mushroom exporters and 37 mushroom farms, Mush M has become the leading organization in exports of the Korean king oyster mushrooms. It was established in August of 2008 and the quality of its products is guaranteed by the aT (Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp.). Last year we exported king oyster mushroom worth about USD$9.5 million. This accounted for over 75 percent of all of last year’s exports of the Korean king oyster mushroom. I think an important factor in the success is our efforts to ensure quality control and spread the cultivation technology know-how to all the members. That is why Mush M receives such favorable evaluations at home and abroad.

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Americans and Europeans mainly eat button mushrooms. Isn’t it hard to break into the Americas and Europe with Korean king oyster mushrooms?


At first, customers in Europe and America looked at king oyster mushrooms with curiosity. We made a lot of efforts to promote the mushrooms to local consumers as “healthy mushrooms from Asia” and “tasting as chewy as meat.” We have constantly held cooking demonstrations and tasting events using king oyster mushrooms, and participated in international food fairs that opened in the Americas and Europe. We also regularly met overseas buyers and tried to persuade them to purchase Korean king oyster mushrooms. Thanks to all these efforts, the number of local consumers who are looking for Korean king oyster mushrooms in large supermarkets of the US, Canada, and Europe is increasing. Another good indicator is the fact that many famous European chefs have started using the Korean king oyster mushroom as a cooking ingredient.   

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Keeping freshness is very important for exporting king oyster mushrooms.


True. When we export Korean king oyster mushrooms to Asia - Japan, China, and Hong Kong - keeping the product fresh amounts to nothing because it is a short-distance shipping. But it takes much longer to deliver Korean king oyster mushrooms to the Americas and Europe. That is why keeping the mushrooms fresh is the core task for quality control. Currently, the Korean king oyster mushroom can be preserved at 4℃ for 40 days after harvesting. Thanks to this method, so far we haven’t had any difficulties in exporting the mushrooms to America and Europe. However, we are also developing a new kind of king oyster mushroom that can be stored for up to 65 days. When the new kind is released, we hope to further expand our exports.


Isn’t the Korean king oyster mushroom competing with the Chinese mushrooms in overseas markets?


Chinese king oyster mushrooms are cheaper than the Korean and the production volume is much larger. Nevertheless, many foreign buyers prefer the Korean king oyster mushrooms for the quality and superior food safety compared to the Chinese products. We continue to hear favorable evaluations about Korean king oyster mushrooms in the overseas markets. Eventually, the marketing strategy is of vast importance. Above all, Mush M is flexible in packaging, trying hard to meet the demands of overseas consumers. We offer packages of 200g, 300g, 400g, and 4kg. We have also obtained international certifications such as Global GAP. This year, we are preparing various sales promotions including a tasting event for mushroom distributors in Europe.
Could you tell us about the future plans of Mush M for exporting king oyster mushrooms?
Mush M is soon going to introduce various processed king oyster mushroom foods, such as pickled mushrooms and snacks. We are considering an advance into the Chinese market. Chinese consumers with high income levels are reasonably interested in imported foods. They also have anxiety about the food safety of home-born fresh agrifoods. We are planning to organize sales promotions of Korean king oyster mushrooms in Chinese department stores this year. At the events, we will emphasize the thorough quality control and safety of the Korean mushrooms.  

Inquiries  Mush M Co., Ltd.          
Tel  +82-2-6300-2640~1          
Fax  +82-2-6300-2642          
E-mail   ijkim789@naver.com                  

Park Sung Eun  parkse@agrinet.co.kr

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