GON « Global Organic Network International

Middle- and upper-income Korean consumers put quality ahead of price when buying food and their preference for safe food has led to the growth in organic products.

Denmark, one of the world’s leading organic goods producers, sees the rise of organic consumption in Korea as a window of opportunity.

“Korea is a very interesting market,” Danish Ambassador Thomas Lehmann told the The Korea Times at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seoul on Nov. 10. “The country is a growing market, one of the richest countries in the world and has a fast-growing middle class. The Korean market is very important to us.”

The Danish envoy pinpointed organic products as an area with great potential for growth in bilateral trade in the near future.

“Korean consumers are increasingly seeking healthy lifestyles, and organic food is an important part of that,” he said. “Denmark is one of the largest organic food producers in the world. Thus, this is an area we can work closely together.”

The interview took place on the sidelines of the Danish Food Seminar at the hotel. During the seminar, a Danish business delegation led by Dan Jorgensen, minister for food, agriculture and fisheries, presented high-quality Danish manufactured products. A reception featuring Danish food followed.

The Danish Embassy hosted the event to promote Danish food and food ingredients.

Korea imports a variety of Danish products, with pork and poultry two items commonly seen in retail stores.

“We have a very good position in the Korean market. But I think we can do better,” said Lehmann.

In Korea, consumption of organic products has grown nearly 20 percent each year. According to the Korea Rural Economic Institute, organic product consumption is expected to surge to 7.1 trillion won by 2020 — this would account for 20 percent of entire product consumption.

Certified Danish organic products are expected to surge in Korea once Korea and the European Union (EU) finalize the Organic Equivalency Agreement. They began negotiations in July after an EU request in February.

If the agreement is signed, certified organic products from the two sides can be sold as organic in either market. Korea has already clinched the organic equivalency pact with the United States, which was introduced on July 1.

Lehmann is optimistic that the agreement will be signed by the end of the year.

The National Agriculture Products Quality Management Service confirmed there were no outstanding issues between the two sides regarding the equivalency pact, and the parties are expected to reach an agreement sooner or later if minor issues are resolved.

Once the pact is signed, Lehmann said that organic producers would be free to ship their certified organic products into Korea.

“Denmark is ready to open up our knowledge and expertise in organic production,” he said.

16.11.2014

Source: The Korean Times