K·FISH seaweed products. (Photo Courtesy of K·FISH)

South Korea Sets Ambitious Development Plan for Seaweed Industry

SEPTEMBER 28, 2020

Jakarta. South Korea's Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries is planning to spur seaweed exports with the ministry's fishery export national brand K·FISH.

The government is planning to foster the Korean seaweed industry as an export-driven food industry worth Rp 12.8 trillion (1 trillion won) by 2024. To this end, only seafood products that meet the government's strict quality regulations can carry the K·FISH name. 

Korea contributes to half of the global market for edible seaweed or laver (kim in Korean). In 2017, their dried seaweed export skyrocketed 50.3 percent. In 2019, they produced 25 billion sheets of seaweed of which 40 percent were exported.

Seaweed is produced from algae. These three conditions -- algae, water temperature, and salt -- must be well-matched and balanced. An adequate amount of sunlight is needed as well. 

Meanwhile, seaweed enjoys a higher global demand thanks to increased international travels and the influence of Korean culture.

In addition, many people consume seaweed to reap its health benefits. The edible is packed with multiple vitamins and iodine that is good for the thyroid. Seaweed is also very low in calories and thus making it a good option to snack on without worrying about diet.

"In Korea, where rice is the staple food, we eat seaweed as a side dish during meals. In other global markets, it is more known for snacks," Lee Dong Jun, managing director for K·FISH Malaysia, said in his statement.

K·FISH seaweed snacks. (Photo courtesy of K·FISH)

Thanks to its versatility, seaweed can be processed to form a wide range of products. Among them is the seaweed snacks (김스낵 which is pronounced as "gim-snek") which are popular in Korea and slowly penetrating the global market.

Seaweed snacks come in different varieties such as the seaweed-fish meat combo. Other combinations include seaweed with ingredients like coconut, grains, and anchovy. There is a huge variety of Korean seaweed snacks that has yet to be discovered by foreign countries.

In Indonesia, several seaweed snack brands can be found in Korean or local markets. The Mu Gung Hwa supermarket chain, for instance, carries a variety of seaweed snack products. The product range, however, may vary depending on the outlet.

Seaweed snacks are also available in the online shopping platform Shopee.

Many regional seaweed snacks also use dried seaweed from Korea for its ingredient.

A close-up of K·FISH seaweed snacks. (Photo courtesy of K·FISH)

K·FISH has set up trade support centers worldwide. The trade centers in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and Ho Chi Minh City facilitate business-matching and seafood trade in the Asean region.

The Kuala Lumpur trade center connects business communities in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore with approved producers and partners in Korea.

K·FISH has also been actively attending local food expos to promote its seafood products and support Indonesian companies in trades with South Korea. Last year, they partook in SIAL Interfood Jakarta at JIExpo Kemayoran. They also plan on participating in more food exhibitions in the future.

Seaweed rice crisps.
Seaweed rice crisps in various flavors. (Photo courtesy of K·FISH)

Those interested in working on seaweed snacks or other seafood products imported from South Korea to Indonesia can contact the trade support center in Kuala Lumpur. K·FISH Malaysia is also open for collaborations with local seaweed producers.

You may contact them through kfishklmy@gmail.com for more details or check out their website www.kfishtrade.com for product-viewing.