ASEAN culinary delights showcased at trade fair

By Joel Lee
  • Published : Oct 31, 2017 - 19:36
  • Updated : Oct 31, 2017 - 19:37

Food and beverages of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations were in the limelight last week at the ASEAN Trade Fair 2017, organized by the ASEAN-Korea Center in Seoul.

The fair was held in conjunction with Food Week Korea -- the country’s largest international culinary exhibition -- at Coex in Seoul from Wednesday through Saturday. Under the banner “Taste the Happiness,” the event invited 100 food and beverage companies from the block of 10 nations -- Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Pavilions representing the 10 member states’ cuisines showcased their products and offered samples to visitors. They also explored commercial opportunities with Korean partners through meetings. Last year, over 1,500 meetings took place and contracts worth more than $2 million were inked.

Kim Young-sun (center), secretary-general of the ASEAN-Korea Center and Korea’s former ambassador to Indonesia, examines food products at the ASEAN Trade Fair 2017 at Coex in Seoul. In the photo are Malaysian Ambassador Rohana Ramli (second from right), Indonesian Ambassador Umar Hadi (second left) and Myanmar Ambassador Thura Thet Oo Maung (left). (ASEAN-Korea Center)

“There is a growing interest among Korean consumers and buyers in ASEAN’s unique, high-quality food and beverage products,” said the center’s Secretary-General Kim Young-sun, a career diplomat and Korean ambassador to Indonesia from 2011-14.

“Despite the surging demand, many ASEAN products have not been introduced to the Korean market yet. I hope the ASEAN Trade Fair will be a platform not only for Korean buyers exploring opportunities with ASEAN partners, but also for the general public, who are increasingly enjoying the exotic and diverse gastronomies of the region.”

Showcased goods included citric fruit Kalamansi from the Philippines, popularly used in detoxification; jam, juice and snack products made from mango, durian, papaya and pineapple; coconut oil, snacks and juice; packaged, easy-to-cook tom yam kung and pho; organic coffee varieties Robusta and Arabica; as well as various seasonings.

A booth promoted the region’s coffees and teas, with baristas brewing beverages for attendees to taste.

Prior to the event, a trade facilitation seminar for representatives of participating ASEAN companies was held on Oct. 24. The seminar enabled them to gain an understanding of the latest trends in Korea’s food industry, and also helped build business links with Korean firms. 

ASEAN-Korea Center Secretary General Kim Young-sun (third from left) poses with Myanmar Ambassador Thura Thet Oo Maung (center)and Cambodian Ambassador Long Dimanche (left) and Thai Ambassador Sarun Charoensuwan (second from left). (ASEAN-Korea Center)

Korean experts gave presentations on a wide range of issues in the country, including distribution, policies on safety control of imported foods, technological developments and regulations on food packaging. In turn, the ASEAN representatives explained latest trends in their respective countries, followed by a visit to the Daesang Cheonan food plant and CJ Freshway Icheon distribution factory.

ASEAN is the world’s seventh-largest economy with a combined population of 625 million and gross domestic product of $2.8 trillion. It has become South Korea’s top investment destination and second-largest trade partner, trailing only China. Bilateral trade between ASEAN and Korea topped $124 billion last year, and is expected to reach $200 billion by 2020.

The ASEAN-Korea Center was established in 2009 to mark the 20th anniversary of a bilateral sectoral dialogue partnership. The intergovernmental organization is mandated with promoting two-way exchanges in trade and investment, tourism, cultural and people-to-people relations. It has participated in the exhibition since 2009 to introduce a wide range of ASEAN products to Korea’s increasingly diversifying consumer market.

By Joel Lee (