Long-Term Room-Temperature Storage Technology and Exports to 18 Countries
Topokki is a Korean dish that is made by mixing pieces of garae-tteok (stick-shaped white rice cake) with beef and assorted vegetables, and stir-frying these various ingredients. With the growing popularity of topokki in China and Southeast Asian countries including Indonesia, the dish has emerged as a promising export item and many Korean food companies are scrambling to take advantage of the lucrative market. Among these companies, Young Poong Co., Ltd. is considered the front runner. It is exporting topokki to as many as 18 markets including the US, Japan, mainland China, Italy, Indonesia, and Hong Kong.
Young Poong has been garnering a lot of attention since South Korean President Park Geun-hye mentioned it at the sixth trade and investment promotion meeting held on August 12. She said that Korea needs to raise the competitiveness of the domestic rice industry and referred to Young Poong as an example of a company that increases the value added by processing rice.
Patented Processing Method Enables Long-Term Storage at Room Temperature
Storage and distribution at room temperature are the reasons the topokki of Young Pooing is receiving great attention in the domestic and overseas markets.
Most ready-to-eat topokki sold at convenient stores and supermarkets is a frozen product. Topokki easily goes bad at room temperature, so long-term distribution is not easy.
However, Mr. Cho Jae-gon, CEO of Young Poong and also a food technician, tried hard, starting from 2010, to develop a topokki processing method that enables the long-term storage of the product. He had tried and failed several times but it did not discourage him. He finally succeeded and obtained a patent for the method in 2013.
By applying Mr. Cho’s method, topokki can be stored and distributed at room temperature for as long as eight months without any preservatives. The development has not only boosted the domestic sales but also contributed to the expansion of exports as the room temperature storage significantly reduces distribution costs.
Mr. Cho explains, “In its initial stage, Young Poong was mainly selling frozen food but quickly realized how cumbersome it was to store and distribute the products at low temperatures even with a rather simple production process.
To resolve this problem, we started conducting research and eventually succeeded in increasing the maximum distribution period to eight months.” He added that the company is developing the technology that will make it possible to store the food for up to 12 months.
Exports to 18 Countries, 60 Percent Share of the Total Topokki Exports
Young Poong is currently exporting topokki to as many as 18 markets including Japan, mainland China, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Qatar, Dubai, Italy, the UK, the US, and Canada. But this number is even larger if the markets where Young Poong’s products are sold under big companies’ brands are included.
The export volume is also growing day-by-day as Young Poong’s products are not only storable at room temperature but also available in several types of packages―pouches, bags, and cups. Last year, the company exported approximately 2.25m worth of topokki and the sales are expected to reach 2.70m this year. With the move and expansion next year, Young Poong may take in over 4.50m.
Young Poong is enthusiastically participating in exhibitions and fairs held overseas to promote its products around the world. It demonstrates its products at such events five times a year or more.
Mr. Song Ho-jae, a deputy head of the overseas business team, said that, according to a Japanese market research institution, the topokki made by Young Poong ranked first in sales volume of all topokki products offered in the supermarkets of Japan. Mr. Song expects that the export volume to China will significantly increase next year due to an exclusive contract with big Chinese distributors.
Continuous Focus on Research and Brand Development
Young Poong attaches great importance to the development of technical skills. It runs an affiliated research center that develops various products―not only topokki but also pan-fries and stuffed pancakes. Last September the research center created a new type of cheese topokki and early next year they are going to release spicy topokki.
Young Poong’s high technical skills can also be evidenced in the fact that the company possesses six patents in food-related technologies.
The representative brand of Young Poong is Matamun. The name means “taste coming from the heart” and reflects the company’s efforts to develop products with great care and to transform the traditional Korean food to suit the palates of contemporary people. Matamun became the company’s trademark in 2001.
Young Poong’s brand for topokki made with Korean rice is Yopokki. It is a compound word created from the Korean words for “delicious,” “convenient,” and topokki. As we can see in these examples, the company is striving to conduct research and develop new products and brands.
A Second Leap with the New Building
Young Poong is planning to complete construction of the new company building in June of next year and it is concentrating its efforts on the final preparations for the move.
The new building in Seongseo Industrial Complex of Daegu Metropolitan City will be three times larger than the current facilities. Thus, the company will be able to produce three to four times more products. Cutting-edge facilities will be installed and the amount of time required for the production will accordingly be reduced. The company plans to increase its market share in both the domestic and export markets.
Mr. Cho emphasizes, “As the company expands, Young Poong will make further efforts to improve the quality of its products.” He added, “Young Poong is not just a food producer. It is a company that presents wholeheartedness, healthiness, happiness, and good memories.”