Participating for the first time in South Korea's biggest food trade show of the year, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) showcased five American organic companies last week at its all-organic pavilion at the Seoul Hotel and Food trade show.
With organic products ranging from organic BBQ sauce to organic flour, the presence of American-made organic was warmly received at the well-attended show. South Korea is an important market for the United States, and demand for organic from the country's 50-million plus population is flourishing.
"Demand for American organic products in Korea is booming, and OTA is working hard to help the U.S. organic sector meet that growing appetite," said Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of OTA. "OTA is thrilled to be helping organic companies explore new business opportunities at this very important trade show."
Being showcased in the organic pavilion are Acme Triple Crown BBQ, Nature's Sun Grown, Organic Valley, To Your Health Sprouted Flour, and UNFI.
The United States and South Korea negotiated a landmark equivalency agreement that went into effect on July 1, 2014. The equivalency agreement allows USDA certified organic processed products to be sold as organic in South Korea. Since the agreement went into place, American exports of organic processed foods and beverages to Korea, which were valued at around $35 million in 2013, have already nearly doubled.
The organic food market in Korea grew by an average rate of 50 percent from 2006 to 2011, and is expected to expand to $6 billion by 2020.
"U.S. organic producers and companies need to make business connections in Korea. Helping Korean consumers learn more about our organic products and helping our U.S. companies to better understand the dynamic Korean market will go a long way in creating opportunities," said Monique Marez, Associate Director of International Trade for OTA.
In addition to the trade show, OTA is also conducting retail tours in Korea for the U.S. participants and is hosting discussions with key importers.
OTA is an official cooperator in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Market Access Program (MAP) to promote U.S. organic products abroad.