Pivotal Role in Exploration of Export Markets for Korean Enokitake
KMC Brand Rapidly Rises in ASEAN Countries Including Vietnam
Plans to Hold Sales Events in 16 World Famous Cities This Year
Enoki mushroom (or enokitake) is a popular diet food because of the abundant dietary fiber and delicious chewy taste. It is widely used as an ingredient for soup dishes like shabu-shabu. Korea is among the major enokitake producers around the world and many overseas consumers look for Korean enokitake on account of the good quality and reasonable price. The brand KMC, short for Korean Mushroom Council, distributes over 90 percent of Korean enoki mushrooms around the world.
You have recently become the head of KMC.
I was elected to be the new president of KMC last March. This was the first time that an outsider, not a mushroom producer, became the leader of KMC. When I worked as Director of the Export Strategy Department of the aT (Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp.), I was very interested in the Korean mushroom export industry. Many Korean mushroom producers support me because of the passion I have demonstrated for the industry. Nevertheless, becoming the new head of the KMC is a huge responsibility.
Exports of Korean enokitake are slowing down slightly.
That is mainly because of a sharp downturn in the exports to China. Until two to three years ago, China was the largest importer of the Korean enoki mushroom. But the country has been interested in developing its own enoki mushroom industry since the late 2000s and they started introducing the outstanding Korean techniques for producing enokitake. A lot of automated facilities to mass produce the mushroom have been set up. And, as China is now able to mass produce enokitake, its imports of enokitake from Korea have been falling.
It seems like you’ll need to urgently find a new market.
Exports of Korean enokitake to China have decreased but it’s encouraging that the demand for Korean enokitake continues to increase in the Americas and Southeast Asian countries. Last year, the largest importer of Korean enokitake was the US. We expect that Vietnam will lead the imports this year. Exports of Korean enokitake to the ASEAN countries (including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia) and to Australia are also steadily increasing.
Why the quick rise in the sales of Korean enoki mushrooms to Vietnam?
In fact, Vietnam cannot produce enokitake because of its geography. So it imports the mushrooms mainly from Korea and China. Popular Korean dramas have been broadcast on Vietnamese TV channels for the past few years and, in the dramas, there were several scenes where the main characters enjoyed Korean dishes made with enokitake. The scenes arouse the curiosity of the Vietnamese. Many people there are interested in enokitake dishes and exports of Korean enokitake are consistently increasing. Korean enokitake is mainly consumed in the northern regions of Vietnam including Hanoi.
Could you tell us about the plans of KMC for exporting Korean enokitake?
We are making efforts to break into new markets. So far, our exports have been limited to a few markets, such as China, the US, and Vietnam. We need to explore new markets for Korean enokitake and discover new buyers. KMC will play an active role in the sales promotion of Korean mushrooms, including enokitake, in the countries with a big potential for market expansion. We’ve scheduled several overseas sales promotion events. Between May and November of this year, we’ll promote Korean mushrooms in Singapore, Japan, China, Vietnam, Australia, Thailand, Europe, India, and the US. Personally, I’m anticipating the K-Food Fair in Ho Chi Minh City (in the southern part of Vietnam) the most. Currently, Korean enokitake is mainly distributed in the northern regions of Vietnam, and I hope that the sales promotion in Ho Chi Minh City will become the momentum that turns the eyes of people in the southern parts of Vietnam to the KMC mushrooms.
What is KMC?
KMC is the leading organization in exports of the Korean mushrooms including enokitake. Its members are the major producers of Korean mushrooms. The Council was established in November of 2009 and the quality of its products is guaranteed by the aT. Last year, KMC exported enoki mushrooms worth about USD$16 million. The Korean enokitake under the KMC brand is distributed in 30 countries around the world. An important factor for the success is KMC’s efforts to ensure quality control and spread the cultivation technology know-how to all the members. The trust with foreign buyers who import Korean mushrooms has been built based on the excellent quality and good pricing of the KMC enokitake.
Inquiries Korea Mushroom Council
Park Sung Eun firstname.lastname@example.org
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