By CHIDCHANOK SHARMA
The Asean-Korea centre organised this year’s Asean Trade Fair under the title “Taste The Happiness” at the COEX convention hall. The fair featured 100 Asean food and beverage companies, 10 each from 10 Asean member state, showcasing a wide selection of their products as they explored business opportunities with potential Korean partners.
Building on past success, Thai products were again very successful, Thai exhibitors said. The products selected for this year’s fair were very diverse, including many that had never before been introduced to the Korean market – including dried fruit, hot sauces, Thai herbal drinks and instant noodles with Thai-flavoured spices.
Exhibitor Rattanaporn Bantherngjit, managing director of I-Yha, dried fruits products, expressed her excitement over the fair after her goods were chosen for showcasing.
“I am very pleased and proud that my products were selected to be showcased at the trade fair,” she said. Hundreds of companies had shown interest in exhibiting, she said, with organisers and the Thai Ambassador to South Korea, Suran Charoensuwan, choosing those that would represent the country.
“It means that even small businesses can be offered this great opportunity if their products are really good,” Rattanaporn told The Nation.
She is now negotiating with potential buyers who want to import her tea made from dried fruit to the Korean market.
“Tonnes of buyers had shown their interest in Thai products, including mine too,” she said. “Or to be exact, we’ve already got a buyer but let’s not jump the gun and let’s see how things go.”
Among Asean countries, the Philippines was the top processed food exporter to Korea last year at US$476 million (Bt15.76 billion), followed by Thailand with $399 million (Bt13.21 billion).
A visitor to the fair shared her view about Thai food. “What I like about Thai foods is that they are so spicy and tasteful, unlike Korean foods that are mostly sweet.”
Exhibitor Danai Dethkunakorn, general manager of Siamchai Interfood, which manufactures processed fruit, said he was happy that Korean people love Thai products. “Especially the fried banana and dehydrated mango that seems to stand out above others products from our company,” he said.
Each country’s products were selected by their own ambassador to South Korea. That’s because Kim Young-sun, secretary-general of the Asean-Korea Centre, believes that no one knows their own products better than the people from the country itself.
The centre has hosted the food and beverage trade fair for nine consecutive years with the aim to introduce a wide range of Asean products to the Korean market.
Over the past three decades, Korea’s relationship with Asean has grown and strengthened. People from throughout the region continue to learn about each other’s different traditions and cultures.
“Certainly, no culture is better than food,” Kim said at the kick-off press conference. “Because everyone has to eat and drink |every day, to study each other through food is to understand each other from our own roots and |history.”
The event highlighted the full range of products, including traditional and local cuisine, organic food and coffee, fine foods, various other ingredients, unique and exotic seasonings, tropical fruits, wine, food technology, traditional handicrafts and more.
The Asean Trade Fair was held as part of Food Week Korea 2017, the largest international food exhibition in Korea.