The Korean government is working overtime to convince Americans (and all foreigners) of the superior benefits of Korean cuisine. 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 the Korean elite want to see explosive growth in the popularity of Korean food, particularly among non-Korean domestic cooks, Korean companies need to set up corporate offices and food production plants in the USA. They also need to heavily advertise in American magazines, TV commercials and influential food blogs.
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.
As the Korean government continues its efforts to globalize Korean food, I hope they listen closely to food companies who have offices overseas and have been overseas long enough to have their fingers on America’s culinary pulse.