China is a huge consumer market for baby food, as one forecast has it that China will have over 100 million young children in 2020. Accordingly, a forecast says that the baby food consumption in the country will reach 175.3 billion yuan in 2020. The amount is converted to about 28 trillion Korean won. That's why the South Korean companies take an interest in the Chinese baby food market.
While it is a wonderful market for businesses, various non-tariff barriers make it tough to go into the market. It is all the more difficult to get organic certification in China. A company catches our eye as it recently acquired the Chinese organic certification for its rice snack and has gotten into high gear for its export. The company's name is Chungdameun Co., Ltd. We met with CEO Kim Yeon-sik of Chungdameun and heard his stories about the birth of its processed rice foods and their successful organic certification.
▲Please tell us about Chungdameun.
"I have long thought that it would be really rewarding to make healthy food and provide it to consumers. So, I searched for an appropriate business and decided that it would be nice going into the baby food market. I founded the company in 2013 and completed the factory in the next year. I coined the company name of Chungdameun, which means 'carrying cleanness' by mixing a Sino-Korean letter and a pure Korean word."
▲It is not easy to acquire the Chinese organic certification for baby food. How did you succeed?
“We considered selling our products in China through the Beijing office of aT in 2017. As a result, we had positive reaction from Chinese buyers and thereby saw the possibility for landing our processed rice foods in the Chinese market. To obtain the organic certification in China, you have to do a lot of paperwork and also have to proceed with an on-site inspection and tests for different products. As it would take considerable time and money until successful final certification, we faced great difficulty. However, as we joined the Miracle Project of aT, we found much help. With aT's help and thanks to our staff's hard work, we kind of breezed through the certification test conducted by the staff who visited from China.”
▲Please describe the features of your products that have obtained the Chinese organic certification.
“Our products are the most differentiated in their high quality. We use ingredients produced where they can supply eco-friendly ones. So, we get eco-friendly ingredients from Jeollanam-do, the largest producer of eco-friendly farm products that accounts for 60% of the South Korean farmland certified for eco-friendly farming. As far as rice is concerned, we receive organic rice from Gurye, Jeollanam-do through a contract. We add enzymes instead of using pesticides and fertilizers and use only the rice that was milled within last ten days. For other ingredients, we try to use Korean-made ingredients that are farmed in an eco-friendly way if they are available. Furthermore, we keep to same-day production and shipment for the manufacturing and distribution of our products.
To describe our products, Rainbow Ball is something that you can pick with your thumb and index to eat. It is a product designed to promote the childhood development of fine motor skills. Rainbow Chips are characterized by its variegated colors and can be eaten by teething-age kids by rubbing it against the gums. Soft bar has its exterior fired lest it easily melt in the hands of kids. Of course, it softly melts when it comes in contact with saliva.”
▲What's your export plan for the future?
“This year marks the start of our export and we aim to achieve 1000% export growth next year. By participating in a Shanghai fair in July, we came to land an organic food section of a young children's goods store in China. Through a strategic agreement with a local distributor, we will go ahead with our full-swing export. In addition to China, we are considering sales to the Southeast Asian markets including Vietnam that are highly interested in baby food.”