Tteokbokki Using Powdered Soup Instead of Liquid
It is easy to spot foreign tourists tasting tteokbokki (spicy stir-fried rice cake) on the streets of Myeong-dong and Insa-dong, two representative tourist destinations in Seoul. You can also find tteokbokki restaurants outside of Korea―as close as the Shinjuku area of Tokyo and as far as the downtown Santiago, the capital of Chile. It is not too much to say that tteokbokki is having its own Hallyu (Korean wave).
As tteokbokki is becoming increasingly popular among foreign consumers, food companies are creating instant tteobokki products which can be eaten conveniently at home, and exporting them to Japan, China, Southeast Asia, and other markets. Located in Gyeongsan City (of North Gyeongsang Province), KCT Foods is a promising company that took the top selling dish on the menu of a popular tteokbokki franchise in Daegu City, Famous Princess Tteokbokki, and turned it into an instant tteokbokki product. The product’s name is Princess (called “Gongju” in Korean) Tteokbokki, and KCT Foods has been knocking on the doors of foreign markets with this product since last year.
Developed an Instant Product Based on the Dish of a Tteokbokki Franchise
There is a big difference between KCT Foods and other tteokbokki exporters: KCT Foods commercialized the flagship dish of a franchise specializing in tteokbokki, so its taste has already been verified by consumers. The Famous Princess Tteokbokki franchise is famous among Koreans and foreigners alike for keeping the original spicy taste of tteokbokki, so KCT Foods was confident that the commercialized dish would have a good potential in foreign markets and actively started developing the instant product for export.
Mr. Kim Jung-rae, CEO of KCT Foods, explained, “Most exported instant tteokbokki products are very sweet, but our company focuses on maintaining the original spiciness of tteokbokki. Also, to differentiate our product from the competitors, we have especially put many efforts into developing the tteokbokki soup and improving the storability of the product.”
Can Be Stored at Room Temperature for Up to Eight Months…Light Weight of the Product Increases Efficiency During Distribution
In general, instant tteokbokki products use sliced tteok (rice cake) and a liquid soup made with gochujang (red pepper paste). In contrast, KCT Foods has succeeded in developing a powdered soup from red pepper powder and various vegetables. The product with powdered soup can be stored at room temperature for up to eight months. Its weight is also 20 percent lighter than that of other instant tteokbokki products, so it has a higher distribution efficiency.
The liquid soup made with fermented red pepper paste usually contains an alcoholic ingredient, but no alcohol is used in the powdered soup made with red pepper powder, so Muslim consumers can enjoy the instant tteokbokki of KCT Foods with an easy mind.
Ms. Lee Mina, the global marketing director of KCT Foods, said, “Because we use no alcoholic ingredients and keep the original spicy taste of tteokbokki, halal buyers―from Indonesia and Malaysia―are highly interested in our product. They also told us that the powdered soup makes the after-taste of the product more refreshing.”
No Artificial Additives…Going to Obtain HACCP Certification
KCT Foods’ instant tteokbokki product for export is offered in two types of packaging: cups and pouches. The sizes of the packages are 230g (cupped tteokbokki, one portion) and 360g (pouch-packaged tteokbok-ki, two portions). The product comes in three flavors: original, spicy, and mild (for children). The company plans to develop and release several new flavors―cheese, curry, and jjajang (black soybean sauce)―that match the tastes of foreign consumers.
In consideration of consumer health, all the instant tteokbokki products of KCT Foods are made with real rice cake, and no artificial additives―such as artificial colors or sweeteners―are used.
KCT Foods is paying a lot of attention to hygiene in order to secure the food safety. The company is pushing ahead with, and plans to complete in the near future, obtaining HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) certification for its instant tteokbokki manufacturing facility.
Plans to Enter Japan and Halal Markets
Last year, KCT Foods participated in international food trade fairs and exhibitions in ten different countries ―Japan, the US, Germany, Indonesia, and others. It also conducted market research to examine the overseas business potential. Based on the research findings, it decided to enter the Japanese, halal, and Central and South American markets. The company is going to start supplying its instant tteokbokki products to big Japanese distributor Itoyokato and to the Indonesian market―the biggest halal food market in the world―in the first half of this year.
What’s more, KCT Foods recently made an experimental shipment of the tteokbokki products to Brazil and received a positive response from the local consumers. Yet another plan is to enter the kosher market, which can become a new blue ocean for the export of Korean agri-products.
Ms. Lee said, “Thanks to the competitive edge we obtained by differentiating our instant tteokbokki with powdered soup, many foreign buyers are showing interest in our product and have approached us with import offers. We will actively participate in foreign food trade fairs―such as FOODEX JAPAN 2016 and SIAL Paris 2016―this year to promote the taste and excellence of the instant Princess Tteokbokki product to buyers and consumers overseas.”
Inquiries KCT Foods Co., Ltd.