Exports since 2004 to the US, UK, and Canada
Hangwa is a traditional Korean cookie made of rice, flour, and nuts with the addition of some honey and vegetable oil. While a common snack, hangwa can also be served on juansang (table prepared as an accompaniment to alcoholic drinks) or gyojasang (dining table). Of course, it is an indispensable food at a birthday party or wedding ceremony.
The sales of hangwa have sharply increased since Chinese President Xi Jinping and first lady Peng Liyuan, during their visit for the Korea-China summit meeting last July, bought some hangwa at a Dongdaemun shopping mall. Many Chinese are now buying hangwa at the online Chinese market Taobao (www.taobao.com).
In these favorable market conditions, Tammijeong Hangwa of Sung Jin Food Co., Ltd. is becoming more and more popular at home and abroad. The company makes hangwa based on the traditional recipes handed down to this day through many generations.
The First Hangwa Company to Acquire HACCP
The modest beginning of Sung Jin Food was a rice cake shop called Seoul Tteokjip. It was started in 1993 by the current president of the company, Lee In-suk. By 2001, she had built a factory in Pocheon City, but it was destroyed by fire, so she re-built the factory with state-of-the-art facilities in 2011. Currently, the company has over 80 employees including three master cooks.
Tammijeong Hangwa of Sung Jin Food is made with only organic ingredients and natural food additives. It is fried using rapeseed oil which is 30-50 percent more expensive than common vegetable oil. Moreover, the oil is used for frying only once and never reused. So the hangwa taste clean and have a crispy texture.
The taste and cooking process of Tammijeong Hangwa went viral. On all major holidays, such as Seol (lunar New Year’s Day) or Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving), the company is swarmed with orders from public offices, the army, and businesses nationwide.
Sung Jin Food uses only domestic rice. 70 percent of the rice for the hangwa is glutinous rice. To strengthen the quality control, the company obtained ISO 22000 (food safety standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization) in May 2008 through a center that supports small and medium businesses. In 2011, Sung Jin Food became the first company in the hangwa industry to acquire HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point).
Manager Lee Seung-hee said, “We decided to obtain ISO 22000 and HACCP to ensure perfect quality control and prove that our products are safe and organic. The brand name Tammijeong is a compound of original taste, sincerity, and plentiful.”
A Variety of Gift Sets Available
The main products of Sung Jin Food are the more than 10 kinds of gift sets available at a wide range of prices. All the sets have a luxurious design and plentiful contents. They include over 20 different kinds of traditional Korean snacks: jeonggwa (fruits preserved in honey), cactus or seaweed maejakgwa (fried, ginger-flavored pastries in the shape of a ribbon), dasik (traditional pressed sweets), gangjeong (fried sweet rice puffs), yakgwa (fried honey cookie with sesame oil), sanja (puffed rice cookies with various coatings), yugwa (fried sweet rice cookies), and so on. Along with gift sets, Sung Jin Food also offers single goods. Among them, yugwa and yakgwa are most popular. The yugwa come in several tastes: with condensed milk, gardenia seeds, cactus, and wormwood. The yakgwa are also produced in several types according to the size and main ingredient.
Over 70 kinds of products of Sung Jin Food are sold nationwide at E-mart stores (one of the biggest supermarket chains in Korea). If you visit the factory and purchase directly, you can get a 20 percent discount. The products are also distributed to schools through Gyeongggi organic school food center and Ourhome (a distribution company for school meals).
President Lee In-suk said, “We make hangwa according to the original recipes of traditional hangwa so that our products taste good and continue the traditions.”
Sung Jin Food started exporting its products in 2004, very soon after it was established. In those years, it would sell product worth USD$ 100,000 annually.
But after the factory burned to the ground and the prices of ingredients such as corn syrup and oil went off the chart, the export amount drastically decreased.
The company was able to overcome all those crises and last year, it exported USD$70,000 worth of the product to the US, UK, and Canada. The main consumers are Korean residents abroad.
This year, from January to July, Sung Jin Food exported USD$ 65,000 of the products. The company is hoping to surpass last year’s exports with the use of Hallyu to promote hangwa. In fact, it was able to attract a lot of attention this year at fairs in Russia and Malaysia.
Lee In-suk, President of Sung Jin Food
“We Will Promote Hangwa Overseas Using Hallyu!”
“Tradition does not mean only the recreation of the old. It is also about progress, about developing and creating new tastes. We are very picky in selecting ingredients and rigorously control the production process because we sincerely care about our consumers.”
With those words, President Lee summarized her business philosophy. For her efforts, she has received awards from the governor of Gyeonggi Province, the mayor of Pocheon City, and from the Ministries of Knowledge Economy and of Culture and Sports.
These days, President Lee is focusing on developing new products. She has created and applied ingredients rich in Vitamin C to some products. In cooperation with the Korean Food Research Institute, she has also developed gangjeong that has an effect of reducing body fat.
President Lee said, “We hope to use Hallyu to promote our products overseas, so that the exports increase.”
Inquiries Sung Jin Food Co., Ltd.
Park Sung Eun firstname.lastname@example.org
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