Lunar New Year (called Seol in Korean) is celebrated in Korea by families’ trips to their hometowns to visit parents, playing traditional games such as yut, and eating tteokguk (rice cake soup) and other festive foods associated with the holiday. In China, Lunar New Year is called Chūn Jié, which stands for “ring out the old year and ringing in the new.” In both countries, people visit relatives and acquaintances, wish them good fortune, and exchange gifts. With their luxurious and healthy image, Korean food products such as red ginseng and traditional liquor make excellent gifts for Chūn Jié. Below is a list of products Korea Agrafood would like to recommend to our readers.
# Korean Products Recommended by Korea Agrafood as Chūn Jié Gifts
① Korean Red Ginseng Gift Set
Korean red ginseng is well known and popular among Chinese consumers interested in healthy living. Such consumers tend to present ginseng not only on Chūn Jié but also on other holidays, such as Parents’ Day and the end of the calendar year. Korean producers offer red ginseng gift sets that include various products—extracts, beverages, pills, and so on.
② Traditional Liquors
Liquor is essential during the Chūn Jié holidays when the Chinese enjoy reunions with their family. Korean traditional liquors are popular due to their luxurious appearance. Based on the comments of Chinese buyers and distributors at a traditional Korean liquor exporting event held in Shanghai last December, the liquors with a unique Korean feel have strong potential in the Chinese market.
③ Nut Products
Nuts are some of the favorite health foods of Chinese people. The nut consumption rises during Chūn Jié because nuts are often served as snacks to guests. Korea produces a variety of nut products including mixed fruit and nuts. Last year, the export of nuts from Korea to China increased by 25% compared to 2016 and reached US$ 17.5 million.
④ Fresh Fruit Sets
Consumers of Hong Kong are big fans of fruit, and they will enjoy receiving Korean fruit such as strawberries, tangerines, apples, and pears as Chūn Jié gifts. Korean exporters offer different types of fruit gift sets including baskets with one kind or various kinds of fruit.
Hangwa is a traditional Korean cookie that used to be served to the royal table during the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910). It is a nutrient-rich food made with cereal, honey, pine nuts, sesame, walnuts, chestnuts, and jujubes. Many hangwa products have attractive packaging appropriate for gift presentation.
Yuja-cha, a traditional Korean tea made with citrus and honey, is famous in China as good for skin care and preventing the flu. Between 2013 and 2016, over US$ 20 million of yuja-cha was exported to China every year. The export volume decreased to US$ 15 million last year, due to the THAAD deployment in Korea, but it is expected to rebound in 2018.
# Tips for Korean Exporters
The presidents of aT branches in China advise that to establish Korean food products as Chūn Jié gifts, Korean exporters should conduct extensive market research, differentiate their products, build a luxurious image, and be particularly attentive to the composition of products.
Seo Byung-kyo, President of the Beijing branch, said, “Exporters can improve their chances to succeed if they carefully check whether the ingredients of the goods they plan to export are allowed to be imported in China. In addition, it is important to conduct surveys of popular Chinese supermarkets before you start exports, in order to identify the right target customer. In regards to packaging, exporters can raise the competitive edge of their products by offering them in refined packaging having a premium image.”
Lee Sang-kil, President of the Shanghai branch, emphasized the importance of creating a luxurious and clean image through packaging. He said, “You may want to use red and gold colors that Chinese consumers particularly like.”
Lee Jong-geun, President of the Chengdu branch, pointed out that gifts should have abundant contents rather than excessive packaging. Lee Ji-jae, President of the Hong Kong branch, said, “Many Chinese consumers would prefer products that have a special packaging and include a free gift for Chūn Jié.”
Since the Chinese purchase Chūn Jié gifts both online and offline, exporters should target both types of stores. Representative online malls in China include Jingdong (www.jd.com) and Tmall (www.tmall.com). There are also mobile messengers that promote and sell products, such as Weixin and Weibo. When shopping for food gifts offline, many Chinese consumers use OLE supermarket chain and other high-end distributors.
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