By Lee Jong-hwan
Seoul, July 1 (World Korean News)= "After COVID-19, the kimchi market in the U.S. has grown rapidly. Americans seem to be more interested in Korean fermented foods. According to recent media reports, kimchi sales in the U.S. market have increased 38 percent. Korean Ramen sales also increased 33 percent."
This is the explanation of Kim Jong-soo, Chairman of MORE Co., Ltd. He produces kimchi in Yeongcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do, and supplies it at home and abroad. He interpreted, "The number of people who eat ramen and kimchi together in the United States seems to have increased."
After finishing the exhibition at Unheungsa Temple in Naju, the Korean Food Forum participated in the exhibition in Suseong-gu, Daegu. Ahead of the exhibition, which will be held from 2 p.m., they visited MORE Co., Ltd. in Yeongcheon and talked with Chairman Kim Jong-soo. The visit was accompanied by Moon Woong-sun, president of the Korean Food Forum, Son Sung-sil, adviser, and Na Heung-yeol, secretary general.
"Kimchi made by our company is also sold at Walmart in the U.S. We are supplying kimchi by OEM."
Kim Jong-soo is an expert who graduated from Gyungbuk National University and has walked the only path of kimchi production. There are many experts who can make delicious kimchi on a small scale in Korea. However, no one can beat him as a person who produces kimchi in large quantities and exports it overseas.
"We have been exporting kimchi to Japan since 30 years ago. It is supplied by OEM to Sanki Food in Japan, and it continues to this day. At that time, even big food companies couldn't export abroad. Now, the kimchi market in Japan is stagnant. Although local production has increased, political relations between Korea and Japan have also adversely affected kimchi exports."
Kim Jong-soo sends 40 kimchi containers to Japan every month. When exporting a lot, the number was higher. Kim Jong-soo also ranked third in the official export of kimchi in the Korean government's trade customs records. This was an unrivaled record for small businesses.
In order to export kimchi, know-how in managing refrigeration is key. The know-how is to slow down the fermentation. If you force it to slow down, it doesn't have original taste."
He said kimchi exports to the U.S. are difficult. It takes 10-15 days to produce and distribute kimchi in korean domestic market. But it takes the U.S. a month just to cross the Pacific by boat.
"When I exported kimchi to Japan, I went through a lot of trial and error. I made it properly and sent it, but the buyer said it tastes different. So I installed a computer in the container and recorded the entire shipping process and checked it. The temperature changes of the entire transportation process were made into data. It turned out that the problem was when customs clearance was made in Japan. At this time, the refrigeration of the container was stopped."
Kim Jong-soo said a Korean large company takes his collection of kimchi to the U.S. market. He introduced that this is related to kimchi fermentation know-how in the long-distance transportation process. Large companies recognized his know-how.
"By exporting kimchi to the U.S., our company's kimchi production has increased further. I've been in a win-win relationship with Japanese buyers for a long time. Korean large companies also need to have a win-win relationship with small and medium-sized enterprises to continue for a long time."
He added that as large companies expand their overseas markets, small and medium-sized companies also have new opportunities.
MORE Co., Ltd., run by Kim Jong-soo, is a company that has produced and exported kimchi professionally. Out of 15 billion won in sales per year, overseas exports account for two thirds.
In Japan, kimchi produced by Kim Jong-soo is receiving great acclaim. Japanese gyudon chains like Matsuya use only his kimchi.
"I went to many exhibitions abroad to export kimchi. I participated in the Dubai exhibition even during the Covid-19 period. I participated in exhibitions held in India, Singapore, the United States, Japan, and Hong Kong. Our company exports kimchi to these countries."
He went to the Indian exhibition and saw that there was no concept of refrigeration in India, so he made stir-fried kimchi that could be distributed at room temperature and submitted it. Recently, the Korean market has been expanding as it has been supplied to e-Mart and Shinsegae under the kimchi brand of Chosun Hotel.
"I think it's a new opportunity because Korean food is receiving favorable reviews in the U.S. and other countries. When Korean food is globalized, Korean food stuffs are exported overseas, which leads to an increase in domestic farm income and stabilization of market prices. Korean food is our culture itself, so it is also the globalization of our culture."
Kim Jong-soo stressed, "It should be a globalization of Korean food that is popularized by locals." He was honored with the Presidential Commendation on the first Kimchi Day.
**(This translation was sponsored by Oh Won-Seong, former chairman of the Korean Association of Dallas.)