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Posted by Tammy

The Korean government is working overtime to make Korean food more popular in the United States. Even before the current government’s intervention, private Korean companies such as CJ Corp. and Ottogi already set up a corporate presence and a distribution network through Korean and Asian grocery stores in the United States. However, most of the food is made in Korea and then imported into the United States for distribution and sale.

If Koreans wants explosive growth in the popularity of Korean food, particularly among non-Korean domestic cooks, I believe that Korean companies need to set up corporate offices and food production plants in the USA.

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Korean automobile manufacturers have already done this. Hyundai and KIA both have automobile plants in the United States. Setting up operations in the States helped Hyundai grow from a niche market into a strong, highly esteemed competitor in the automotive market.

Establishing a corporate presence in the United States will make it easier for Korean food manufacturers to learn what American people like and dislike about Korean food and be able to target their product lines accordingly. Which means Koreans may have to broaden their definition of Korean food.

Despite Ottogi and CJ Corp.’s American corporate presence, they are primarily importers of Korean foods made in Korea. There are no American production plants. I’ve never seen an Ottogi spice packet say “Made in the USA”. However, that trend is starting to change as well.

I went to my local Korean grocery store recently and discovered a Korean beef and vegetable soup made by a Korean company called Chang Tuh Corp. Chang Tuh Corp. is based in Kimpo, Gyonggi-do, South Korea. Even though the product itself is 100% Korean based on the bilingual, mostly Korean packaging, it was made in the USA in Salem, Ore.

I was intrigued enough to bring some home and try it for myself. I served it with white rice and Korean sidedishes, and both hubby and I thought it tasted pretty good. It was not overly salty, like many processed food products. It had lots of veggies as well, including daikon, bean sprouts, and green onions. I hope Korean companies make more pre-made Korean foods in the USA as good as this dish.

Tammy Quackenbush lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her love of Korean food started when she taught ESL in Chuncheon, Gangwon-do, back in 1996-1997. However, she didn’t become “famous” for her Korean cooking style until she started making cooking videos on YouTube as Koreanfornian Cooking in 2007 (had to put her college degree to use somehow). Her recipes and articles have been featured on Slice/Seriouseats.com, Foodbuzz, Korea.net and iFoodTV.com.

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