Nowadays many consumers have a keen interest in safe and healthy food. They feel especially uneasy about processed foods that contain a lot of artificial additives. In addition, the demand for wholesome snacks that retains the flavor and color of the original natural ingredients is increasing around the globe. In light of those trends, bugak (vegetable or seaweed chips), a Korean traditional snack, is attracting great interest from foreign consumers. Korean company Sobaeksan Arae produces bugak under the brand name “Hanbugak.” Their products embody the concept of a traditional food recreated for the taste of modern people.
Entering the Global Market Just a Year after the Release in Korea
Bugak is made by covering vegetables or seaweed with glutinous rice starch, leaving them to dry, and then frying them in oil. It is often served as a side dish or accompaniment to alcoholic drinks at family events such as gatherings on traditional holidays or weddings. These days, bugak is coming into the spotlight as a nutritious snack for children and a low-calorie food for dieters. Established in 2015, Sobaeksan Arae is a company specializing in the production of bugak. It succeeded in exporting its products overseas just a year after launching its brand, Hanbugak, in the domestic market.
Jeong Eui-do, director of Sobaeksan Arae, says, “Our products caught the eye of a foreign buyer thanks to a differentiated production technique, and we were happy to jump into export business so early. Our main advantage is that we use more natural ingredients than other bugak-producers. In addition, our bugak has little fat, yet it retains its crispiness for a long time.”
Ten Chili Peppers in Each Package of Chili Pepper Bugak…An Abundance of Nutritional Benefits from Vegetables
Hanbugak of Sobaeksan Arae comes in six flavors: chili pepper, carrot, potato, burdock, pumpkin, and seaweed. The main ingredients are produced in the environmentally clean areas of North Gyeongsang Province. Seaweed comes from the coast of South Jeolla Province, which is the main seaweed-producing area of Korea. Only natural ingredients and no artificial additives are used. Each package weighs 35g. To make one package of chili pepper bugak product, the company uses 10 chili peppers; the potato bugak is made with three potatoes 130g in total; the carrot bugak is made from 150g of carrots.
Chou Koung-hee, CEO of Sobaeksan Arae, says, “Modern people have a low intake of vegetables. Hanbugak helps them to have more nutrition from vegetables. To differentiate our products from the rivals, we make them with a lot of natural ingredients, so our products are high-quality bugak. We use unrefined raw sugar instead of white sugar in consideration of consumers’ health. We also use only salicomia herbacea salt, which is a healthy type of salt. Although the cost of ingredients is high, we are happy to please the mouths of consumers with wholesome snacks made of good ingredients.”
Most of the Production Done by Hand
Most of steps in the production process of Hanbugak are performed manually. Making half-finished bugak takes five to seven days. Then, the bugak is left to mature for about three months. The final product is prepared the day before the distribution or shipment. Due to the amount of time and effort to make the products, Sobaeksan Arae does not produce large quantities of bugak but focuses on the taste and quality that can satisfy the consumer.
First Export to the US…Advances into Canada and Southeast Asia
Sobaeksan Arae released Hanbugak in the domestic market in early 2015 and in less than a year made the first shipment of its products to a supermarket in New York City. By early 2016, Hanbugak reached the stores of Seattle. Exports to the US were proposed by an American buyer who appreciated the taste and quality of Hanbugak products. Following its success in the American market, Sobaeksan Arae started actively promoting its bugak to foreign buyers through export consultation events. As a result, the company has been able to expand its markets to Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam.
Chou shared her aspirations, saying, “We will soon release new products―with apple and lotus root flavors―to appeal to diverse tastes of foreign consumers interested in healthy food. We will put much effort into raising the awareness of Korean bugak as a wholesome snack around the globe and promote our high-quality products.”
# Additional Info: Various Hanbugak Products to Choose According to Your Taste
Chili Pepper Hanbugak is recommended for spicy flavor lovers. Burdock Hanbugak is targeting female consumers interested in losing weight. Carrot Hanbugak and Pumpkin Hanbugak are good for children because they have a sweet flavor and are rich in vitamins. Aromatic and low in calories, Potato Hanbugak and Seaweed Hanbugak make a great accompaniment to alcoholic drinks.
Sobaeksan Arae Co., Ltd.
Tel: +82-54-633-2488, +82-10-3484-2484 (Jeong Eui-do, Director)
Park Sung Eun firstname.lastname@example.org
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