Korea’s ginseng eyes Asia-Pacific expansion

SINGAPORE — While ginseng products have long been consumed by all age groups in South Korea, the spreading of information on their convenience and benefits has relied mostly on word of mouth.

With a gradual rise in the popularity of ginseng products overseas, Korea’s largest ginseng manufacturer has set out to market its products full-fledged, most recently by attending the region’s biggest duty-free and travel retail show.

Korea Ginseng Corp. showcased its red ginseng-based products at the 2018 TFWA Asia Pacific Exhibition & Conference in Singapore this week, aiming to take on the duty-free and travel retail market in the Asia-Pacific region, the company said Thursday.

This is the company’s second participation in the event, following last year, when it helped install the show’s new health care food category backed by the soaring popularity of its red ginseng supplements.

Organized by the Tax Free World Association, some 3,000 products across 300 companies were displayed at the five-day show, which ran through Thursday.

“This year we hope to introduce our genuine products to more customers in the Asia-Pacific region. The goal for next year is to tap into the Middle East and Russia, expanding Cheong Kwan Jang’s presence and raising awareness of red ginseng” said Rian Lee, head of the company’s new business leading team, at the event held at the Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Center in Singapore.

“What has complicated our advances were that our products are classified as food in some places and as medicine in some countries, while some are completely new to ginseng.”

Cheong Kwan Jang is Korea Ginseng Corp.’s most representative brand. It prides itself on pioneering the health care food category in the travel retail market, which centers on high-end fashion, cosmetics and chocolate brands.

Buoyed by a hike in demand mainly among Chinese tourists, Cheong Kwan Jang’s earnings have risen by an annual average of 20 percent over the past seven years, the company said.

Non-Korean customers accounted for 25 percent of the brand’s earnings last year, from roughly 15 percent in 2012. The figure is rapidly rising due to Hallyu and a growing number of foreigners seeking to adopt a Korean lifestyle, Lee said.

At the exhibition the company promoted its duty-free exclusive Cheong Kwan Jang Family Plus series launched earlier this year, among others including its top-selling Korean Red Ginseng Everytime extract.

Unlike most of its other products, which are presented as pastes, extracts and ginseng roots, the Family Plus series consists of six supplements made into tablets and capsules to lower the entry barrier for customers new to red ginseng.

“As part of the global travel retail industry’s efforts to develop new selling points, most companies are expanding their health and well-being category. This trend has also added hype to our products,” Lee said.

At last year’s exhibit, Korea Ginseng Corp. clinched deals with more than three companies, including Taiwanese international airline Eva Air, Taiwan’s largest airline China Airlines, and Hong Kong-based high end travel retailer DFS.

As part of efforts to familiarize industry officials with its products, the company served red ginseng cocktails made with 1 gram of Red Ginseng Everytime liquid product per serving, alongside Red Ginseng Everytime and honey-mixed red ginseng ice tea at the show.

Cheong Kwan Jang’s signature red ginseng paste can also be consumed with coffee. The product comes in various forms ranging from candies to powder that can be sprinkled on salads, toast or other dishes.

Cheong Kwan Jang ranked No. 2 in earnings among duty-free brands at Korea’s Incheon Airport in 2016, following local cigarette maker KT&G. Korea has the world’s biggest duty-free market, which posted $10.6 trillion in sales in 2016.

Led by Cheong Kwan Jang’s growth, Korea Ginseng Corp. posted 1.2 trillion won in earnings last year, up 8.3 percent on-year.