Lee Byung-ho, the President of Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation(aT), is striving to expand exports of Korean agricultural products by traveling not only to Korean production sites but also to many other countries. President Lee, who has directly felt that K-Food has become the core content of the Korean wave, is preparing various plans for diversifying the export market of Korean agricultural products. The heard about the export policy including diversification of export market from Lee Byung-ho, the President of aT.
Q. Could you share us the export policy for agricultural products in Korea this year?
In 2020, we plan to further strengthen the export base of fresh produce, which is most effective in increasing farmers’ income from export business. In order to spread success case story which contributed to stabilizing onion prices through the urgent export support of over-produced Korean onions last year, we will establish a regular export system for domestic supply-demand private items. The K-Fresh Zone, a specialized store for fresh produce installed in overseas distribution stores, will be also expanded.
Moreover, policies to diversify export markets will be pushed forward. We will establish export bridgeheads to New Southern and New Northern regions, and strengthen the distribution and logistics infrastructure. For example, pilot agents will be dispatched abroad to seven countries that are the top strategic place for diversifying export markets including Malaysia and Mongolia. We will also expand logistics infrastructure by supporting refrigeration and freezing transportation costs to develop exports to New Southern regions. Furthermore, we will introduce a joint transport system for each region in Central Asia and Mongolia, where high inland transportation costs occur, and will promote the Eurasian K-Food Expedition Project to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Korea-Russia diplomacy.
In addition, we will further improve our operation of one-stop export support business that provides a comprehensive support to exporters, from preparing exports to customs clearance of importing countries and finding buyers.
Q. In order to diversify Korean agricultural export market this year, a reorganization regarding New Northern and New Southern regions has been conducted. What are the expected effects?
The aT reorganized its overseas marketing organization at Division of Food Export earlier this year into Division of New Southern, New Northern, and New Distribution Channel. The background of the reorganization was the diversification of the export market, which has been the biggest topic of agricultural exports in recent years. Through the reorganized divisions, we will contribute to the smooth entry of emerging markets and stable export of agricultural products.
In particular, the aT plans to concentrate its overseas marketing resources and capabilities in the two export strategic markets of New Southern and New Northern to make the largest export market comparable to Japan and the United States. In addition, the division dedicated to new distribution channel will penetrate reliable online malls such as Amazon, Alibaba, and social network markets including YouTube and Instagram, to expand the base of Korean agricultural products into overseas markets.
Q. In 2019, the exports of Korean fresh produce has hit a record high. What are your plans for expanding fresh agricultural exports this year?
Last year, Korea’s representative export items, ginseng and kimchi, reached USD 200 million and USD 100 million, respectively. As strawberries and grapes led export growth, Korea’s total exports of fresh produce last year was USD 1.4 billion, up 8% compared to the previous year.
This year, we will drive exports by items through the activation of export integration organization and export council. Now that pears and tomatoes have been added to existing five items including paprika, mushroom, strawberry, grape, and cut flowers, the total of seven items are selected to export by the export integration organization.
The aT is preparing to carry out customized marketing for each country as well as by market entry stages, and implement quality control of fresh produce for export. We will continue to discover and nurture exclusive items for each export market.
Q. At fairs abroad, how do international buyers and consumers perceive Korean agricultural products? If you can say a word.
Whenever we visit overseas export sites such as international fairs, K-Food Fair, or meet consumers, we often realize that K-Food has become the core content of the Korean Wave along with K-Pop and K-Beauty. In particular, there were many opinions that Korean agricultural products is not only reliable, but also excellent in taste and quality as well as traditional and modern, and visually beautiful. Thanks to these impression, the popularity is exploding in the Southeast Asian market, where a proportion of young population is very high. In fact, Korean strawberries have become one of the best-selling gifts for Valentine’s Day in Vietnam. Besides, Korean agricultural product is being regarded as a synonym for healthy nutrition in developed countries such as the U.S. and Europe, due to the boom in fermented foods and vegetarian diet for health and environmental issues.
The aT will further manage and thoroughly prepare Korean agricultural exports so that overseas consumers can find the products with confidence. In addition, we will organize various events where you can experience K-Food and feel its attraction. We ask for continued interest and attention of overseas buyers and consumers.