Food export potential to Korea highlighted with largest organic deal

Posted by Editorial on 21st January 2009

Ballarat-based Hakubaku Australia has completed the largest ever export deal for Australian-made organic retail products into Korea with a $300,000 shipment of organic ‘Somen’ noodles to leading Korean food brand Sajo Haepyo, with the assistance of Austrade.

Hakubaku’s products will be sold to approximately 420 stores across Korea the country, representing the second largest retail coverage for any Australian-made product behind Australian beef. Hakubaku’s organic varieties complement the needs of a growing consumer segment seeking organic food.

This is the first time that a retail-ready Australian-made organic product has entered the Korean market on such a scale.

With the company employing around 35 Victorians, Australia’s Minister for Trade Simon Crean said the deal demonstrated how Australian food products could deliver advanced manufacturing jobs. “Australia is well known in Asia for its high quality wheat but this company has taken the next step by processing wheat into noodles and selling them to Korea,” he said. “It shows the prospects for Australian food exports to Korea and the wider region, even in the face of the global financial crisis, are very strong.”

It is estimated the Korean wheat noodle market is worth around $150 million a year. The country is currently Australia’s sixth largest trading partner with merchandise exports growing by almost 9 per cent to reach $14.25 billion in 2007-08. Food exports were worth $1.61 billion for the year.

Mr Crean said Australian food exporters were being helped by the nation’s reputation for clean, green products when there is rising awareness in the region of food safety issues.

He added that Australia’s diverse styles of food products had the potential to connect with Korea’s sophisticated consumers.

“Australian organic wheat flour is selling to Korean bakeries, organic corn thins are on the shelves of major department stores, and organic soybeans are used for a range of soya products including locally manufactured tofu,” Mr Crean noted. And, with only 30% food self-sufficiency in Korea, the need to import to a 50 million-strong market will remain, despite uncertainties in the global trading environment.

In Japan, where Hakubaku is the leading noodle brand, ninety per cent of all wheat-based noodles are made from Australian wheat.

The Australian Government is building closer ties with Korea and has concluded preparatory talks on a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA).