Shiitake mushroom is the best natural food provided by nature. Especially, as it has the excellent medical efficacy such as anticancer effect, liver-function reinforcement and adult disease prevention, it has been known since ancient times for a healthy food of retarding aging and promoting long life.
With the publicized efficacy of shiitake mushrooms used for food ingredients in the Eastern areas, shiitake mushrooms have grown as a prominent food in the world such as Europe and North America. Gyeongseong Shiitake Mushroom Farm (CEO Kim Jin-seok) located in Seongju, Gyeongbuk also plays a role in promoting Korean shiitake mushrooms in the world market through the exports of shiitake mushrooms grown by the traditional ways.
Three Generations of Love for Shiitake Mushrooms
The history of Gyeongseong Shiitake Mushroom Farm started from 1952. CEO Kim Jin-seok’s grandfather started to grow shiitake mushrooms in Yeongdong-gun, Chungbuk, and CEO’s father grew them around Gimcheon, Chilgok and Gunwi in Gyeongbuk in 1976. And then CEO Kim started to cultivate shiitake mushrooms under structure in Seonju and went into full-scale production. Lee Hae-jo, Director and Kim’s Wife, said, “My husband and I quitted our jobs, and returned to farming. As we inherited the cultivation methods from his parents, there was no great difficulties in growing shiitake mushrooms”.
Production of Good Quality Shiitake Mushrooms based on Special Family-run
Management Gyeongseong Shiitake Mushroom Farm boats its optimal surroundings for growing mushrooms. CEO Kim Said, “Our farm has been blessed by heaven with a wonderful natural environment in the mountains to reach after climbing 12 mountain passes. Also, many pine trees and a huge daily temperature difference
bring firm texture and deep fragrance”.
Most of mushroom growers generally produce shiitake mushrooms in a way of media culture method using sawdust, but Gyeongseong Shiitake Mushroom Farm adheres to the way of growing shiitake mushrooms naturally in pure oak wood, which is differentiated from the ways of other farmers. The use of operation during three generations as marketing attracts attention from the customers at home and abroad. CEO Kim explained, “Our farm has been run by family during three generations. We installed our own spawn culture facility in 2002 to develop more productive and stable varieties, and now do our best to produce cheaper and good quality shiitake mushrooms“.
Gyeongseong Shiitake Mushrooms Getting the Spotlight in Domestic and Overseas Markets
Good quality shiitake mushrooms was well-received by the customers at home and abroad. The sales in 2017 amounted to about KRW500 million and KRW100 million, 20% of the sales, came from the exports to the overseas markets such as Japan, USA and Singapore. Domestic sales were mainly from the sales in 2 department stores, 3 large marts and an antenna shop in Gyeongbuk area.
Recently, Gyeongseong shiitake mushrooms were also on sale in the post office shopping mall. Director Lee Hae-jo said, “Our shiitake mushrooms were all exported to Japan in the 2000s. However, our export was blocked due to a weak yen and we increased the proportion of direct transactions such as sales of gift sets in Korea. In case of the USA where our fresh shiitake mushrooms are exported, the market response is good enough to demand our products as many as possible”.
Such result waw fueled by the role of the Rural Development Administration (RDA). The Agricultural Technology Center provided instruction on opening a website and blog, and also helped us to cultivate the U.S. market including the connection with US buyers and development of proper export container.
Director Lee said, “The RDA gave us many supports including overseas market development. In 2012, a Japanese buyer saw our homepage made by the support of the Agricultural Technology Center, and directly visited our farm, leading to the export”.
Gyeongseong Shiitake Mushroom Farm Continues to Develop Overseas Markets
Gyeongseong shiitake mushrooms have already been stably distributed at home and abroad, but CEO Kim Jin-seok and Director Lee Hae-jo did not settle for the present. Director Lee conducted an overseas market survey last year during her visits to Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, USA, Russia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Canada, China, and identified a consumption tendency of the customers. She planned to obtain organic and traditional food certification within this year. The processing factory is now under construction.
Director Lee said, “We will manufacture the processed shiitaka mushroom products so that many customers can easily taste them”.