Korean Dishes and Food Products Popular with Americans and Chinese
This September, the K-Food Fair, a large-scale trade fair for Korean agricultural products, will be held in the US and China, the world’s two largest economies (G2). K-Food Fairs are designed to introduce Korean food products to consumers overseas and have been held since 2013 in major import and promising markets for Korean products.
Given that the fairs are organized one after the other in the two countries controlling global agriculture trends, the strongest Korean exporters are going to participate with the very best of their products.
Let us take a look at the main features of the K-Food Fair in the US and China as well as Korean dishes and agriproducts that enjoy the greatest popularity in the two countries.
K-Food Fair in the US and China
Style and Freedom
K-Food Fair in the US: September 4–5, Trump Soho New York Hotel
MAFRA (the Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs) and aT (Korea Agro Fisheries & Food Trade Corp.) are hosting the K-Food Fair at the Trump Soho New York Hotel, close to the UN Building and Wall Street, with the purpose of expanding the market for healthy and delicious Korean agriproducts in the US.
Thirty-three Korean exporters are expected to participate in the fair and engage in consultations and negotiations with American buyers. They are going to demonstrate aloe beverages (which are already dominating the local market), seaweed snacks (popular as healthy munchies), kimchi (selected by American magazine Health as one of the world’s top five healthy products), and red ginseng (a representative healthy functional food).
MAFRA and aT have decorated the venue to match the liberal and stylish atmosphere of New York City. The event space has been designed as a standing area where its visitors can have a casual conversation while enjoying finger food (Korean rice wine poached shrimp, pear compote, and red ginseng chocolate cake) made from Korean agriproducts.
Various Mini-Conferences Held at the Same Time
K-Food Fair in Shanghai: September 21–22, Sofitel Shanghai
Since this K-Food Fair is organized in Shanghai, a first-tier city and the economic capital of China, buyers from all over the country are expected to participate. To increase the synergy effect, mini-conferences on the products of buyers’ interest will be held in addition to export consultations.
Forty-four Korean exporters will promote ginseng, citron tea, snacks, beverages, and other Korean products popular in China.
A conference on distribution, targeting importers and exporters of food ingredients and 40 local agents (40 companies), will be organized as part of the K-Food Fair in Shanghai.
Furthermore, briefing sessions will be hosted to assist foreign buyers in discovering new products with good potential.
Great & Giant K-Food in the US
-Ginseng (In Tablets) : Ginseng from Korea is considered the best in terms of its efficacy. For example, it has been scientifically proven that Korean ginseng has an anti-cancer effect and can lower cholesterol levels. For American consumers who are not used to the bitter taste and scent of ginseng, Korean companies have developed ginseng tablets and are exporting them to the US.
- Pear : The sweet nectar and crispiness are the biggest charms of Korean pears. Recognized for their high quality, they are exported mainly to the US and Taiwan. Korean pears have a high sugar content (12–14°Bx) and are meticulously selected, which helps them beat the lower priced Chinese pears in the American market.
- Kimchi : Kimchi, a representative Korean fermented food, is popular around the world as a healthy food. Several years ago, kimchi became a trendy topic on Twitter when Michelle Obama posted a picture and recipe of kimchi she made by herself.
- Oyster : The Korean oyster features a strong scent of the sea and a chewy texture. Its hygienic safety is widely recognized. The USFDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) confirmed that the sanitary conditions in Korean sea waters meet those of the National Syndromic Surveillance Program.
- Beverages : The US is the biggest market for Korean beverages. The most popular among them are aloe drinks. They contain natural aloe and are rich in vitamin C, so they not only taste good but also have a skin-beautifying effect.
- Seaweed Snacks : Known in the US in the past as “black paper,” seaweed is now recognized as a healthy food. It is especially popular as a nutritious snack for children and a low-calorie accompaniment to beer for adults.
Korean rice snacks do not use wheat flour, so they are easy to digest. They are attracting a lot of attention in the US due to the high demand for gluten-free products in the market.
Thanks to the Korean government’s support with special containers for marine transportation in the last five years, the export of fresh and safe flatfish from Korea to the US has expanded.
Various American media predict that the savory-hot Korean red pepper paste will be the next big hit in the market of hot sauces.
Great & Giant K-Food in China
- Ginseng : Regular and red ginseng from Korea received wide recognition in China as good for energy restoration and skin care. Many local department stores and premium health food shops actively sell ginseng roots and extracts. Ginseng in capsules, pressed ginseng, and sliced red ginseng are also popular.
- Citrus tea : Korean citrus tea (yuja tea) caught the hearts of the Chinese as soon as it entered the Chinese markets. It has a sweet-and-sour taste and bright yellow color favored by many Chinese.
- Powdered Milk Formula : Exports of powdered milk formula from Korea to China are increasing every year, thanks to the high quality and safety of the products. Korean companies offer a wide range of products according to the function of the product and the infant’s age. They are more competitively priced than their European or Australian rivals, even though the quality is similar.
- Fish Sausage : Fish sausages are appropriate as snacks for children because their savory taste is created using nutritious fish and cheese. Korean companies have developed and are exporting to China several flavors (cheese, bulgogi, corn, etc.) in accordance with preferences of Chinese consumers. Products with tuna have been recently released and are receiving significant attention from Chinese buyers.
- Baby Food : As the number of newborn babies in China increase, so does the demand for imported baby food. Korean baby food products are popular in China thanks to their high food safety and attractive design using cute characters. Korea exports to China various types of baby food including snacks, drinks, seasoned seaweed, and freeze-dried baby food.
- Milk : The demand for Korean milk in China is increasing thanks to the geographical advantage in transportation and the high safety of Korean products. Processed milk products, such as banana-flavored milk beverages, are hugely popular among young people for their delicious scent and flavor, sophisticated design, and high milk content.
Taking note of the popularity of tteokbokki (Korean stir-fried rice cake) in China, many buyers are looking for frozen tteokbokki products that can heated in a microwave.
Exports of kimchi from the food’s country of origin, Korea, to China resumed last year, with the premium products recording the highest sales.
Hansik Beloved by Hollywood Stars
In the first half of this year, many Hollywood stars visited Korea to promote new Hollywood blockbusters such as Spider-man: Homecoming.
In January, Milla Jovovich, the heroine of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter visited Korea for a press conference. During the conference, she expressed her affection for Korean food, saying, “I like Korean food so much that I even have bulgogi (thin slices of beef marinated in a soy sauce) at home.”
Hollywood actress Lily Collins who appeared in Korean movie Okja posted pictures of her stay in Seoul. They feature bindae-tteok (mung-bean pancake), mayak-gimbap (finger-sized seaweed roll), bibimbap (rice mixed with vegetables and beef), and other dishes sold at Gwangjang market as well as temple food and a Korean watermelon.
One of the world’s top models, Miranda Kerr often visits Korea. Having to keep a strict diet, she says that healthy, reinvigorating samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup) is her favorite Korean dish.
Favorite Dishes of Korean Wave Stars in China
Singer Hwang Chiyeul, whose popularity in China is dubbed the “Huáng Zhì Liè syndrome,” showed how to make kimchi on HunanTV‘s show.
Actress Chu Ja-hyun is another fan of kimchi. In a talk show, she revealed, “To deal with homesickness on my first trip to China, I brought kimchi with me.”
EXO’s Chinese member Ray demonstrated his preferences for Korean food in variety program EXO’s Showtime. When the band stopped in a resting area, he went to a Korean food stall to enjoy hanbang-yeongyang-gukbab (oriental nutritional beef soup), leaving behind the other members who bought hotdogs and colas.
Lee Gwangsu, a Korean Wave star who was an ambassador of Korean agricultural products, loves tteokbokki. In the “Gwangsu’s Week” episode of comedy program Running Man, host Yoo Jae-seok invited others to a snack bar, saying that “Gwangsu likes tteokbokki the best.”
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