MAFRA Minister Exclusive Part I: Fermented and convenience foods to lead ‘Adventurous Table’ export strategy

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

South Korea's national ‘Adventurous Table’ global food export strategy will be led by foods and beverages from the fermented and convenience categories. ©Getty Images
South Korea's national ‘Adventurous Table’ global food export strategy will be led by foods and beverages from the fermented and convenience categories. ©Getty Images

Related tags South korea Exclusive Exports

The South Korean government’s launch of its national ‘Adventurous Table’ global food export strategy will be led by foods and beverages from the fermented and convenience categories, a senior minister has told FoodNavigator-Asia.

South Korea has made no secret of its plans to tap the Korean Wave, or Hallyu wave – namely the rising populatiry of Korean popular culture - to implement major expansion and export plans for Korean foods to the international stage, having highlighted markets in South East Asia​, Central Asia​ and Latin America​ as major targets.

The latest expansion initiative launched by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) dubbed the ‘Adventurous Table’ seeks to grow South Korean exports.

Within this the ministry believes that products from the fermented and convenience foods categories are set to propel Korean food to the next level on the international stage.

“As global consumers are showing a growing interest in healthy or vegetable foods, we expect that a global popularity of fermented foods such as kimchi, fermented soybean paste (doenjang) and fermented soy sauce (ganjang) will see significant increase,”​ MAFRA Agriculture Innovation Policy Office Deputy Minister Kwon Jae-han told FoodNavigator-Asia​ in an exclusive interview.

“Importantly, traditional Korean fermented paste and sauces [have a long and proven history of being] highly useful as sauces because they have long been used as a base of Korean dishes.

“This [practicality for use as] sauces not only in Korean dishes but also fusion cuisines also gives these a strong potential to grow much more popular worldwide.

“We also see products from within the ‘bunsik’ category, which are inexpensive Korean dishes available at snack eateries or street vendors, and generally focused on the qualities of taste and convenience, as having very high growth potential – these include items such as tteokbokki rice cakes and ramen.

“There has recently already been high global popularity of Korean street foods such as frozen kimbap (seaweed-wrapped rice rolls) and a Korean-style hot dogs.”

Other major products considered ‘dark horses’ with strong overseas growth potential include traditional Korean alcoholic drinks such as the fermented rice wine makgeolli and various traditional desserts such as bingsu shaved ice and yakgwa, a deep-fried honey cookie.

“This is an area where the Korean wave has made a big impact – take for instance dalgona, a Korean-style candy, which is part of a game many Koreans played back in their youth. This game and culture was shared with the world through the Korea television show Squid Game, and made a big impact,”​ he added.

“We will continue to promote diverse kinds of Korean foods to global markets by using the content in the Korean Wave as a medium, such as Korean dramas.”

‘Adventurous Table’ as a characteristic, not a brand

When queried as to whether ‘Adventurous Table’ will be an initiative along the lines of Australia’s ‘Brand Australia’ marketing, Kwon explained that there is a major difference in that the ministry has derived this term as a keyword of sorts to describe K-food characteristics as opposed to particular products.

“The ‘Adventurous Table’ phrase is a branded keyword meant to represent the various charms of K-foods, and not simply the dishes or products themselves,”​ he said.

“We want the meaning to also extend to include overall aspects of Korean food such as the atmosphere consumers feel when experiencing a K-food; Korean food culture; the stories passed on about each food; tableware; ways of eating food and so on.

“This K-food brand image has been coined in a way to best express the advantages and stories of Korean food, taking into consideration diverse elements such as the global popularity of K-food, the main consumer targets which are those in their twenties and thirties,  the potential for its recognition and appreciation globally, and more.”

Earlier this year in February, MAFRA had announced a formal Strategic Plan to Strengthen the Global Competitiveness of the K-food Industry as part of its national targets, with the Adventurous Table initiative as a key implementation focus.


Look out for Part Two of this exclusive interview where MAFRA will reveal further details on concrete strategies planned for its various export markets in and out of the APAC region.


We will also be taking a closer look at Healthier Product Innovation as one of the key topics in our Growth Asia Summit 2024 this July – Join us to find out more, check out the website here for more details.

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