The growth of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is largely due to its role as an intermediary trade base where big merchants from the Arab world gather together. Currently, the city is the center of finance in the Middle East and an important air transportation hub connecting all continents. If a product wins the hearts of consumers in the Dubai area, there is a high possibility for the expansion of its sales to nearby countries in the Middle East and even the African continent. In order to promote Korean food in those areas, MAFRA (the Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs) and aT (the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation) will host the 2017 K-Food Fair in Dubai for two days on October 24 and 25.
Creating a Space for Exchanges between Korean Exporters and Middle Eastern Buyers
The 2017 K-Food Fair in Dubai will take place at the Westin Dubai Al Habtoor City. On October, the events of the fair will include a seminar on Korean ginseng and the export of Korean products to the Middle East, a presentation of promising products as well as a buyer reception. Approximately 80 buyers from the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and other regions will be matched with 24 Korean exporting companies though individual consultations on October 24. Visitors of the fair can also look around promotional exhibitions of pears, tangerines, dairy products, and other Korean agricultural products. They can also watch promotional videos of Korean companies participating in the fair. A presentation of health products such as ginseng, which are popular with local consumers, is expected to attract a lot of buyers.
The head of aT office in Abu Dhabi, Song Bong-seok, says, “This event is hosted not only to expand the sales of Korean food in the Middle East but also to advance exports further into halal markets around the world. We hope that 1:1 consultations between Korean exporters and potential buyers will lead to larger exports.” He adds, “By organizing events such as a seminar on ginseng and inviting leading buyers who operate online shopping malls and distribute food ingredients, we reflect the demands of both the local consumers and Korean exporters. We are doing our best to prepare a fair that can yield solid results.”
Selecting Products in Line with Preferences of Middle Eastern Consumers
Ramyeon (instant noodles) is one of the hottest Korean products in the Middle East. Exports of ramyeon to the UAE in the first half of this year amounted to US$ 2.4 million, which was 50% greater than the same period last year (US$ 1.35 million). Compared to the export amount in 2015 (US$ 0.8 million), it is a three-fold increase. The growth in popularity is related to the fame of Buldak-bokkeum-myeon, renowned for its spicy flavor, widely viewed on Youtube.com.
At the upcoming fair, noodle products will be offered by KO-A Trading and Korinus International. KO-A Trading will promote NongShim products such as noodles with spicy flavor, vegetables, and beef. Korinus International will also focus on spicy products: Hot Chicken Ramen, Hot Chicken Ramen Cup, Hot Chicken Ramen Cheese, and Hot Chicken Ramen Stew.
As interest in healthy living is on the rise among consumers in the Middle East, the export of Korean health food is also growing. About US$ 320,000 worth of ginseng drinks were exported to the UAE in the first half of this year. It is an impressive start, given that such products were not offered to the market last year. Sales of processed red ginseng increased sharply from US$14,000 in the first half of last year to US$77,000 during the same period of this year. In response to this trend, six Korean producers of ginseng products are presenting their products at the fair. The six companies are BrandAcumen, Dong-Jin Pharmaceutical, Kuan Industrial, Danurim, Bogoshinyak, and Daedong Korea Ginseng.
Korean Agricultural Products Known for Their Freshness and Excellent Texture
Korean agricultural products boast excellent texture and freshness as they are produced in clean air and water, fertile soil, and the climate that has four distinct seasons. Furthermore, overseas consumers appreciate the effort Korean farmers put into producing safe agricultural products.
The popularity of Korean pears is rapidly rising in the Middle East. The export amount in the first six months of this year reached US$ 30,000. For comparison, during the same periods in previous years, Korea exported US$ 9,300 worth of pears in 2014, US$ 14,900 in 2015, and US$ 22,200 in 2016. The export amount of Korean mushrooms in the first half of 2017 is estimated at US$ 5,500 dollars which is an over 1,000% increase from the same period of last year.
The trend of increasing interest among Middle Eastern consumers in Korean fresh agricultural products has attracted to the fair several major producers in that category. Korean Pear Export will promote high-quality pears. K-MUSH and E&B Trade are presenting enoki mushrooms, king oyster mushrooms, and beech mushrooms. Jeilseed will introduce Danjo pepper, which is considered good for people with diabetes.
Advancing Kimchi and Beverages
Kimchi, Korea’s representative fermented food, is known for its efficacy of preventing cancer, aging, and obesity. Its sales in the Middle East are growing. The export volume to the UAE in the first half of this year reached 320,000 tons, which is twice the volume exported in the first half of 2014 (176,000 tons). Showing their kimchi products at this fair are Hansung Food and Foodberry.
Two companies, OKF and Nokchawon, will participate in the fair to test the potential of Korean beverages in the local market. OKF is scheduled to present its Aloe Vera King, Organic Aloe, and Farmer’s Aloe. Nokchawon will focus on promoting Citron Honey Tea and I'm Saengsaeng Lemon as well as organic products, which are popular in UAE, such as Organic Green Tea Powder and Organic Green Tea.
Promoting Healthy Marine Products
The total export amount of Korean dried seaweed has exceeded US$ 300 million for the first time this year. It is one of Korea’s marine products that have won recognition overseas. In addition to seaweed, Korean oysters and abalones are highly evaluated abroad for their high safety and quality. The marine products emerging as health foods are expected to attract much attention from buyers at this fair.
Haenong Food will promote a variety of products including Roasted Kimbap Laver and Seasoned Laver. Seastar plans to show its Cho Sal First Mi-yuk (sea mustard) and Yak Chan Dasima (kelp). An exporter specializing in sun-dried salt, Haeyeareum will feel out the possibility of exporting to the region its premium regular and flavored sea salts of the brand “Lo.” Hainong is going to introduce fish cake products which can be used as healthy snacks.
Lee Hyun Woo firstname.lastname@example.org
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