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K-Food Shines in Vietnam!Vietnam, Leaping Forward to Become One of the Top Four Importers of Korean Food

Recognition of Korean Food Rises through Efforts of K-Food Promotion Hall in Hanoi
Vietnam secured a robust position as a major market for Korean food products in the late 2000s, when the volume of Korean food imported by the country surpassed US$ 100 million for the first time. With the further increase to US$ 275 million in 2011, US$ 435 million in 2014, and US$ 500 million last year, the country has become the fourth largest importer of Korean food.

The continuous increase in imports of Korean products by Vietnam is attributed to the growing interest of local consumers in Korean food, which is a consequence of the popularity of Korean cultural contents such as K-pop. Last year, the opening of a promotional hall for Korean food in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, has also been of great help to Vietnamese consumers who want to know more about Korean food, agriproducts, and food culture. Let us take a closer look at the Hanoi K-Food Promotion Hall.

Make, Try, and Experience Korean Food at Hanoi K-Food Promotion Hall
MAFRA (the Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs) and aT (Korea Agro-Fisheries and Food Trade Corporation) opened the Hanoi K-Food Promotion Hall to promote the great taste and healthy image of Korean food products to Vietnamese consumers and offer them a chance to make Korean dishes by themselves.

The promotion hall operated on the premises of the Korean Culture Center in Vietnam for about six months, from June 22 to December 31 last year. It received much attention, attracting some 700 visitors. Inspired by the success of the last year’s project, MAFRA and aT plan to open a promotional hall once again this year with many new and exciting experience activities.

◎ Korean Cooking Class, The Highest Ranking Program
The most popular program with visitors of the Hanoi K-Food Promotion Hall last year was the Korean cooking class. They were able to make and taste various Korean dishes that appeared on Korean TV series and attend lectures about the nutritional benefits of Korean food. Both the cooking activity and lectures received positive responses from participants.

Local consumers selected tteokbokki (stir-fried spicy rice cake), kimchi-jjigae (kimchi stew), gimbap (seaweed roll with rice), and japchae (stir-fried glass noodles with vegetables) as their favorites among Korean dishes. Tteokbokki is particularly popular among the young Vietnamese for its addictive spiciness. Kimchi-jjigae receives high evaluations as a fantastic combination of the sour taste of kimchi with the soft taste of pork. Many Vietnamese love gimbap because it is easy to cook with ingredients at hand. Japchae is the choice of Vietnamese homemakers for its delicious taste and healthy image as it is made with assorted vegetables.

◎ Korean Products Most Popular Among Visitors of Hanoi K-Food Promotion Hall

- Ginseng: Korean ginseng is rated very high in Vietnam in terms of its efficacy and awareness among local consumers. However, the prices for Korean ginseng products are just as high, thus only those in the middle and higher-income brackets can afford to purchase them. They buy Korean ginseng as gifts or healthy food for themselves. Among such products, red ginseng extract, powdered ginseng tea, and red ginseng candy enjoy the highest popularity.
 

- Dairy products: The birthrate is on a steady rise in Vietnam, and the demand for high-quality baby formula is increasing accordingly, especially among young Vietnamese consumers with relatively high incomes. Recently, Korean dairy companies, such as Maeil Dairies and Namyang Dairy Products, have entered the local market and are supplying baby formulas to large supermarkets and online stores. The Korean fruit-flavored and fruit milk products are winning the hearts of Vietnamese youngsters in their 10s and 20s. Coffee milk and coffee beverages are receiving favorable responses from young female consumers and many local buyers demonstrate their interest in such products.

- Instant noodles: Korean-style instant noodles, or ramyeon, are highly popular among young Vietnamese consumers. One can easily find major Korean brands, such as Nongshim, Ottogi, and Samyang, in large stores and supermarkets around the country. Currently, buldak-bokkeum Ramyeon (with stir-fried spicy chicken) and kimchi-ramyeon are leading the popularity rankings.


□ Experience Korean Food Culture at Food & Hotel Vietnam 2017
Food and Hotel Vietnam (FHV) 2017, the second largest food exhibition in Vietnam, will take place in Ho Chi Minh City, the economic capital of the country, for four days from April 25. MAFRA and aT plan to open a Korean pavilion there in cooperation with over 40 Korean food exporters.

◎ The Korean Pavilion Operation Plan
At FHV 2017, MAFRA and aT will concentrate their efforts on exploring the market and promoting Korean food culture. To create new distribution channels, they will seek entry into online stores which are frequently used by local consumers in their 20s and 30s interested in Korean pop culture. The two organizations plan to promote beverages, snacks, and Korean convenience food products that are popular among young consumers. In addition, they will organize events such as a Korean cooking demonstration and tasting of tteokbokki and bulgogi (Korean-style barbequed beef) at a Korean cooking studio, which will operate during the exhibition under the name “K-Food Cooking Demo.”

◎ Identifying Promising Products
One of the goals of MAFRA and aT’s participation in food exhibitions in Vietnam is to examine the business potential of promising products. The two agencies will exhibit Miraecle products (such as freeze-dried baby food and green tangerine juice) and certified products of the so-called sextiary industry and carry out market research to find ways to export these products to Vietnam. Here, "Miraecle"—pronounced similar to the English word "miracle"—combines the Korean words for "future" ("mirae") and "to be greater" ("keul"), thereby expressing a hope for the miraculous growth of the Korean food industry. “Sextiary industry" refers to integration of production with processing and sale in order to form a business eco-system encompassing production and tourism or other opportunities creating more jobs and added value in rural communities.

◎ Promotion of Various Korean Food Products
Also on display at the Korean pavilion will be unique Korean products such as processed red ginseng, kimchi, citrus tea with honey, and high-quality fresh farm produce including bell peppers, mushrooms, and strawberries. In addition, the exhibition will serve as a place to introduce healthy food products such vegetable soups, fruit marmalade, aloe juice, and other beverages, in line with the increasing number of health-conscious consumers in Vietnam.

Park Sung Eun  parkse@agrinet.co.kr

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