No Preservatives, Artificial Colors or Flavorings…Only Uses High-end Ingredients
The seaweed served with Korean meals is well known to many foreigners. Although it is often consumed as a snack, seaweed is rich in nutrition such as proteins, calcium, and vitamins. For that reason it is in the limelight overseas. Nowadays, most Korean seaweed products are mass-produced in automated facilities. Some Korean seaweed producers, however, are using the traditional methods that Korean mothers applied when roasting seaweed for their children in the olden days. Located at Goesan County of North Chungcheong Province, Han Baek Food Agricultural Co., Ltd. is one of the producers that aspires to preserve the taste of seaweed prepared in a traditional way. The company has reinterpreted the traditional method using modern facilities and is distributing a variety of seaweed products at home and abroad.
From a Street Stall to a Company with Annual Sales of USD$5.15 million
Han Baek Food is now a large company with annual sales exceeding USD$5 million, but it started as a small store in the Yukgeori Market of Cheongju City. The taste and quality of the seaweed that has just been roasted by hand went viral among the locals and the store was featured on a TV show. After the broadcast, the delicious seaweed got attention throughout the country.
Mr. Hong Soon-won, the director of Han Baek Food, introduces the company, “We jumped into the franchise business in 2008 and our franchisees are now selling in large Korean supermarkets such as Lotte Mart, E-Mart, and Nonghyup Hanaro Mart. Their sales account for the largest portion of our profits.”
Uses Best Quality Seaweed and Pure Salt, Squeezes Oil In-House
But the seaweed of Han Baek Food is not only popular because it is roasted by hand. The company also only uses high-end ingredients―seaweed, salt, and oil―to make its products. Every winter, it receives a supply of seaweed from Sinan County in South Jeolla Province. To make the taste of the seaweed fresher, the company squeezes the oil immediately. Han Baek Food also uses the best quality salt, which is filtered in a special facility at a temperature of 1,000℃. Mr. Hong emphasizes, “Our roasted seaweed is a healthy food because no preservatives, artificial colors, or artificial flavors are used.”
Obtained International HACCP Certification and ISO22000…Thorough Hygiene Control
This year, Han Baek Food built a new factory where it installed cutting-edge seaweed-production facilities. The new factory is equipped with an X-ray scanner and metal detector to ensure thorough control over the food safety.
Mr. Hong says, “Our manufacturing facilities are certified with international HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point System) and ISO22000. What’s more, our seaweed products possess FDA (Food and Drug Administration of the US) certification, and the factory has been registered as a seaweed-production line with the Chinese government. We take pride in being the best among Korean seaweed-producers in food safety and hygienic standards.” Another, unique feature of Han Baek Food’s seaweed-production facilities is that they retain the traditional roasting method. All of the seaweed is roasted by hand, which means each worker roasts seaweed by hand at one of the 12 large stone-plate roasting machines.
Mr. Hong says, “Our production lines are automated, but the roasting method is kept in the traditional way.”
Manufactures 10 Kinds of Products Including Seasoned Seaweed and Powdered Seaweed
Han Baek Food offers 10 kinds of processed seaweed products―handmade roasted seasoned seaweed, powdered seaweed, gim-muchim (seaweed mixed with seasonings), and others. The main ingredient for all of them is seaweed roasted on large stone-plates.
The powdered seaweed product is exported to foreign markets under the brand “Master Hee’s Roasted Laver snack.” The product comes in four flavors: with seeds and nuts, with shrimp, curry flavor, and original flavor. Master Hee’s Roasted Laver snack with seeds and nuts is a great accompaniment to beer. The snack with shrimp contains a lot of shrimp, onion, and shiitake; so it is good for children during the period of intensive growth. The product with the curry flavor harmonizes the original taste of roasted seaweed with the unique taste of curry. The original one is designed for those who enjoy the pure, classic taste of seaweed.
First Went Abroad in 2012…Now Exports to the US, China, Japan, and Other Countries
Han Baek Food launched its overseas business in 2012. Currently, the company is exporting its powdered seaweed products to Australia, the US, China, Japan, Singapore, and Canada. It is also eyeing the markets of Southeast Asia. Last April, Han Baek Food signed an MOU with an Indonesian distributor.
What’s more, it is preparing to obtain halal certification in order to raise the competitive edge of its seaweed products. Mr. Hong says, “ll the foreign buyers who tasted our seaweed products were satisfied. We have a plan to make inroads into India soon.”
The Patented Product of Han Baek Food, Smokeless and Dust Collecting Stand
The flagship product of the company, roasted seasoned seaweed, has to be roasted on the spot and sold at the stalls of a large supermarket right away. But, in the early days of Han Baek Food, it was problematic because roasting on the spot produced smoke. To resolve this issue, the company developed a “smokeless and dust collecting stand.” A mechanical device installed on the stand removes the odor and smoke during roasting. Thanks to this invention, it is possible to roast seaweed anywhere, even indoors.
Mr. Hong says, “Foreign buyers are highly interested in our smokeless and dust collecting stand. We recently completed negotiations with a Chinese company for supplying both our roasted seasoned seaweed products and the stands.”
Inquiries Han Baek Food Agricultural Co., Ltd.