First Advances Overseas Are
in the US & Vietnam
The ginseng produced in Korea (panax ginseng) attracts the attention of people around the world as a functional healthy food due to the high concentration of saponin. It contains approximately 30 types of saponin―twice that of American ginseng, in which 15 types of saponin are found. Saponin is also referred to as ginsenoside, which is an amalgamation of ginseng and glycoside.
According to pharmacological research, ginsenoside is effective in protecting liver functions, inhibiting the proliferation of cancer cells, stimulating production of adrenocortical hormones, enhancing learning ability, and fighting diabetes. The Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) has officially recognized the efficacies of ginsenoside Rg1, Rg2, and Rb1 in strengthening immunity, relieving fatigue, and improving memory. This is in addition to their antithrombotic and anoxidative functions. Ginsenoside elements such as Ra, Rf, Rg3, and Rh2 can only be found in Korean ginseng. A reference to the excellent medicinal qualities of Korean ginseng is found in its name. Also referred to as Goryeo ginseng, Korean ginseng has the scientific name of “panax ginseng,” where panax is derived from the Greek word for panacea.
Recently, however, it was proved that the berries of Goryeo ginseng also contain a plenitude of ginsenoside. The finding has motivated efforts to commercialize the ginseng berries. It took Korea Ginseng Berry Corpora-tion ten years of arduous research and development efforts to succeed in releasing products with ginseng berries.
Registered Patent for Method of Manufacturing Ginseng Berry Extract
Korea Ginseng Berry Corporation offers a variety of products including ginseng berry concentrates, ampoules, teas, confectioneries, soaps, shampoos, and hangover-relieving beverages. The products are sold under the brand name of “Millennium Masterpiece.” The raw ingredients are obtained by harvesting and processing ginseng berries from three- to four-year-old ginseng.
Surprisingly, ginseng berries contain a larger amount of saponin than red ginseng, a world-renowned healthy food.
A component analysis conducted in 2013 by the Biotech Research Center of Joongbu University demonstrated that a ginseng berry contains 4.86 milligrams to grams (mg/g) of ginsenoside Rb1, 11.26 mg/g of ginsenoside Rb2, 10.52 mg/g of ginsenoside Rc, and 45.96 mg/g of ginsenoside Re. In other words, the volume of saponin in the berry is about 15 times larger than the volume in red ginseng products. The ginsenoside elements Re and Rb2, in particular, are drawing a lot of attention because they are known to be excellent for preventing and treating diabetes―a major threat to human health in the modern era. What’s more, the corporation filed a patent application for its method of manufacturing ginseng berry extract and had it registered in 2011 as a patent with the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO).
Mr. Youn Jin-chan, CEO of Korean Ginseng Berry Corporation, explained that red ginseng is made by steaming and drying ginseng. During that process, the ginsenoside concentration increases or decreases based on various factors. These include the applied temperature, the number of process repetitions, and overall time. He added that the process of making red ginseng is geared toward maximizing the ginsenoside contents, and the same process is applied to ginseng berries.
Developing Products for the Market with the Largest Potential: China
The corporation’s products are mostly exported overseas―to the US, China, Vietnam, and other countries. Currently, the highest sales are in the American market where each year the corporation supplies 2,000 to 3,000 boxes of its products. These include ginseng berry concentrate, and the market is still growing. Shipments to Vietnam started earlier this year. In the midst of rising interest from local consumers in healthy food, the products there are receiving favorable evaluations for high marketability.
However, the market that is thought to become the largest for the corporation’s products is China. For example, the corporation developed a ginseng berry tea based on the consumption patterns of Chinese people who love drinking teas. Ampoule products are also expected to sell well in the country due to the recent increase of interest in health.
The corporation jumped into exports before cultivating the domestic market because the absence of a domestic distribution network would mean high distribution costs. Moreover, ginseng berries are not yet registered as a functional food in Korea. That’s why the corporation decided to first knock on the door of the foreign markets where Goryeo ginseng is highly regarded. Currently, Korea recognizes the functionality of ginseng products when the contents of ginsenoside Rb1, Rg1, and Rg3 are 3.8 mg/g or more. In fact, ginseng berries are known to contain 15 mg/g of the ginsenoside elements.
Mr. Youn said that the corporation seeks to expand sales of its products by pioneering more export markets, and negotiations to supply ginseng berry products to duty free shops and guide shops are under way. He explained that the prices of ginseng berry products are higher than those of red ginseng products because the ginseng berry contains a lot of ginsenoside.
Planning to Increase Added Value of Ginseng Berries by Developing Medicine
Mr. Youn said he encountered ginseng berries by chance. He first succeeded in the softening treatment while he was engaged in producing red ginseng and was awarded a grand prize for making red ginseng kimchi at the Kimchi Expo in 2005.
In the meantime, Mr. Youn met farmers to purchase ginseng. They said that ginseng berries were also good. That’s how his interest in ginseng berries started. When Mr. Young tried boiling ginseng berries in a caldron, a lid of the caldron flew off due to the large amount of foam that formed inside. The incident served as a catalyst for his hard work developing ginseng berry technology.
Mr. Youn explains, “The word ‘saponin’ is derived from a Greek word meaning ‘soap’ because it generates foam just like soap does. When you shake an ampoule product, it turns completely into foam.” According to Mr. Youn, the corporation is the only company to apply the process of steaming and drying ginseng berries, and it possesses the knowhow to clean and process the ginseng berries.
Mr. Youn continues, “The ginseng berries used as a base ingredient for the products go through a process in which residual agrochemicals decompose. Plus, the corporation obtained a certification for its agrochemical-free products from the Korean government.” He emphasized plans to conduct more research on methods of extracting high-content saponin from ginseng berries and on the resulting efficacies. The corporation will also make continued efforts to increase the added value of Korean ginseng berries by conducting clinical tests to develop medicine and by pioneering new markets.
Inquiries Korea Ginseng Berry Corporation
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