By Jonghwan Lee
Seoul, April 29(World Korean News)= Dubai has a large Asian food ingredient store called ‘1004 Gourmet’ “Korean food and cosmetics are gaining huge popularity in the region.” said Shin Dong-chul, Chairman of the UAE Korean Association, who runs the company.
He recently visited Korea and introduced the situation there. He said, “Many industries, including tourist hotels and travel agencies, have been hit by COVID-19, However, food has benefited relatively.” And he added, “The size of the Korean food material and food market has grown locally.”
In 2018, he opened the first store of 1004 Gourmet, which sells asian food and korean cosmetics. And last year, he opened its second store. And in June this year, he opens its third store.
The third store is also a large scale store. Like the first and second stores, the third store is decorated with top-end stores such as Hyundai Department Store and Galleria Food Store in Korea.
“We are planning to open two more stores in Abu Dhabi and other countries next year. If we reach five stores, we'll be able to meet the needs of UAE region.”
Shin said he has expanded the distribution market in various ways, including supplying food ingredients to hotels, in addition to the food store ‘1004 Gourmet.’
“It's often called HORECA business. It is a business that supplies food to hotels and restaurant cafes. We also deliver to about 600 places, including the finest high-end Japanese restaurants. My eldest son is in charge of this business.”
Shin also entered the online market eight to nine years ago. He runs an online food sales website with 100,000 members. He also runs a large-capacity catering business that supplies food to nuclear power plants and construction sites.
“Also, I supply and distribute to large distribution stores such as Carrefour. I've already put Korean materials in big stores like Carrefour.”
He said, “The number of Korean residents in the UAE has decreased from 15,000 in the past to 10,000 now due to COVID-19.” He added, “Korean food customers accounted for 80% of Koreans and Japanese in the past, but now foreign customers account for 80% during the COVID-19 period.”
“From 2024, we are planning to enter the entire Middle East market by expanding our stores to nearby Oman and Qatar.” he said.
He stressed, “If Iran opens its door, it will be a big market for Korean food and cosmetics.”
He visited Korea for the first time in two years to avoid COVID-19 quarantine.