K-health food: South Korea strengthens public-private partnership to promote exports

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

South Korean authorities are driving the globalisation of the country’s functional health foods by enhancing public-private partnership. ©Getty Images
South Korean authorities are driving the globalisation of the country’s functional health foods by enhancing public-private partnership. ©Getty Images

Related tags South korea Exports

South Korean authorities are driving the globalisation of the country’s functional health foods by enhancing public-private partnership and supporting firms throughout the entire product lifecycle.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety announced that the support would be available from July for firms which fulfill the criteria. 

Spanning across technical and commercial fronts, the support is given to the standardisation of functional ingredients, manufacturing processes, testing methods, safety evaluation, and verification of the ingredients’ health function. 

Information on overseas markets’ consumption trends will also be provided to support exports, while public-private partnership will be enhanced.

“We plan to actively support the branding of K-health food through public-private partnership, so that it will lead to the activation of exports of health functional food,”​ the ministry said. 

The National Institute of Food and Drug Safety Evaluation is in charge of bringing together the related ministries, academia, and associations to speed up the commercialisation and exporting processes. 

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs last month also announced that it would form an export support group.

As part of the initiative, it will promote clinical trials and research to establish the scientific evidence of local functional foods such as ginseng.

This in turn facilitates the registration of the ingredient as a functional health food overseas and opens up more export opportunities for South Korea’s health foods firms.

Last year, ginseng was one of the three food products where the export was over US$100m, along with kimchi and processed rice products, The Korea Herald ​reported.

Last week, the Gangwon Ginseng Agricultural Cooperative also held a shipping ceremony where red ginseng products were shipped to the US.

Due to COVID-19, the cooperative has exported more than KRW$400m (US$330k) of red ginseng to China and Hong Kong.

Permitted functions

The health functional food claims in South Korea are divided into 10 major categories, catering to the needs of different body parts.

They include the nervous, digestion, metabolic, endocrine, cardiovascular, reproductive systems.

At present, the number of health claims permitted is the highest for the digestion and metabolic systems, where up to nine claims are allowed.

Permitted claims include ‘may help reduce body fat’, ‘may help protect the liver from alcohol damage’, and ‘may help in the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestine and suppression of harmful bacteria’.

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