South Korean chicken-related businesses have so far focused their exports on Samgyetang ('chicken soup with ginseng'). Except for some markets, however, the chicken soup eating has yet to establish itself solidly as an export item in overseas markets. In this light, a company draws our attention as it has developed a product that reflects the overseas consumers' needs. The company is Maniker F&G, which is specialized in chicken processing.Maniker F&G has developed samgyejuk ('porridge with chicken and ginseng') and is appealing to the palate of the consumers in the US, Hong Kong, and Japan. We met with CEO Yun Doo-hyeon of Maniker F&G, the leading player in the export of samgyejuk.
▲When the export market is dominated by samgyetang, samgyejuk is a new approach. How did it begin?
“In 2010, the export project group joined by our company and Konkuk University took up a government project. Handling the project, we surveyed the US market. And we came to see that the Chinese in the US love porridge and the Vietnamese consumers in America prefer the Korean ginseng. Since then, we have sold samgyetang in the US. By the way, the Chinese-Americans and Vietnamese-Americans have this habit of eating porridge, so the local buyers told us that they wanted to sell samgyejuk there. They suggested that selling samgyejuk and samgyetang together could create synergy. So, we began to develop samgyejuk.”
▲Nevertheless, the making of samgyejuk must have been anything but easy. Please describe the manufacturing of samgyejuk and the merits of the product.
“To differentiate ours from other porridges, we use only the quality glutinous rice among others. This makes the porridge feel very premium. And we have ensured the best quality for other ingredients. We use Korea ginseng, jujubes from Gyeongsan, and chestnuts from Gongju. The quality ingredients are turned into samgyejuk through manual work. First of all, the human hands not machines have to tear the chicken meat into pieces. With glutinous rice measured and added by people, samgyejuk is a tonic food that carries people's hearty earnestness. And to support consumers' choice according to their preferences, we have diversified the line with samgyetang with mung beans, samgyetang with perilla, and samgyetang with shiitake among others.”
▲We understand that getting manufacturing facilities approved for export to the US is not easy. How did you achieve that?
“USDA visits to inspect our manufacturing facilities for export to the US every year. They toured our processing facilities and commented that the place was very clean, free from odors, just like a pharmaceutical plant. To keep facilities odor-free, as is usually not experienced with livestock processing factories, you have to keep on regular staff training including HACCP. As required by the US government, the process in which chicken is slaughtered for samgyetang for US sales, government officials have to be present. Thus, we are putting in continuous effort to meet the hygiene standards set by the US.”
▲How are your products distributed in the US market?
“We supply not only to the Korean markets but also 99 Ranch Market and 168 market run by the Tawa Group with the Chinese origin. The company has about 35 stores in the Western United States. Our samgyejuk and samgyetang are supplied coast to coast including the Vietnamese markets and the markets with the Hong Kong origin.”
▲Since your first export to the US, 200,000 packs have been sold and your products have also met positive response from Hong Kong, thus gaining huge popularity overseas. What's your export plan for the future?
“First of all, we are working to figure out how consumers can enjoy samgyejuk with greater convenience, like changing the current pouch to container for the product packaging. We are not only increasing the consumption of our products in the US and Hong Kong, but also consider going into Cana and EU markets. For this purpose, we will give various promotions, sampling, and sales events for samgyejuk and samgyetang, to ensure that a lot of overseas consumers will sample the Korean-made chicken porridge and soup with ginseng, jujube, and chestnut in them. The company will do its homework to ensure the continuous supply of its high-quality products. We will also develop a variety of new products to expand the consumer choice.