When it comes to choosing a dish that represents Korean cuisine on a global scale, there’s a wide range of options, from bibimbap and tteokbokki to fried chicken and pork belly BBQ. For many, though, there’s one dish that reigns supreme: kimchi. Not only is this traditionally fermented food prized for its delicious flavor and nutritious benefits, but it is also known as a Korean soul food. In 2008, the U.S. magazine Health named kimchi as one of the five healthiest foods in the world, solidifying its position as a proud ambassador of Korean cuisine.
Kimchi, once a pioneer in the international spread of K-food, is today experiencing another surge in popularity thanks to the Korean culture wave enthusiastically sweeping the globe. Playing a leading role in this phenomenon is bibigo Kimchi, the product of CJ CheilJedang’s unparalleled fermentation technology and extensive food expertise. In this article, the CJ Newsroom delves into the story of bibigo’s worldwide kimchi domination with Lim Hee-jeong, CJ CheilJedang’s Kimchi GSP Leader .
The Story Behind Kimchi’s Global Expansion
Initially, kimchi exports were primarily aimed at the Korean diaspora living abroad, particularly in other Asian countries like Japan. However, as the popularity of kimchi grew, the number of countries and regions the delicacy was being exported to began to increase – a trend that continues to this day.
Today, CJ CheilJedang exports bibigo Kimchi to a diverse range of countries, including the United States, Japan, Europe, Singapore, Australia and Thailand. Notably, the company has established a strong presence in Vietnam, where it holds over 50% of the market share, achieved through local production since 2016. The size of the Vietnamese kimchi market has nearly tripled in the five years since CJ CheilJedang first entered the market.
Q. Kimchi’s popularity continues to rise in global cuisine. What’s the background behind the continued growth of global sales for CJ CheilJedang’s kimchi?
Lim: There are lots of factors that contribute to kimchi’s ever-growing influence in the global market. Health and wellness, veganism, better for you (BFY) foods – these global trends are growing, and at the same time, we are experiencing an increase in demand for food products in the United States and Europe that come from different parts of the world. In North America, exports of kimchi have gone up by 40% compared to 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has also raised awareness about foods that boost immunity, making kimchi – a healthy and fermented food – increasingly appealing to consumers. This points towards an even bigger growth potential for kimchi in the future food market.
The Ultimate Taste Experience – CJ CheilJedang’s Unique Technologies
CJ CheilJedang is pursuing bibigo kimchi’s global growth by enhancing its three core technologies in fermentation control, raw material control and packaging. The aim is to achieve the best taste and the highest quality in its kimchi products.
Q. Spreading the word to global consumers about the unique taste of kimchi and delivering kimchi customized to suit local tastes must be a top priority. What are some technologies and processes CJ CheilJedang uses to maintain taste and quality?
Lim: First and foremost, CJ CheilJedang uses special fermentation control technology that leverages the company’s long experience with kimchi to keep its taste consistent, delicious and distinctive across a range of products. This technology incorporates a patented lactobacillus starter, and the company is continually researching and developing methods like ‘liquid fermentation’ technology, ‘fermentation delay’ technology and ‘fermentation stop’ technology, which all play different roles. The goal is to provide global consumers with authentic kimchi and, at the same time, make sure shelf-stable kimchi can last up to 12 months without changing its flavor.
Another key field is raw material control technology that helps keep the quality of our main ingredients at a high level and picks out suitable varieties according to local conditions. Research and development are ongoing into raw material texture enhancement technology that preserves the unique flavor of each different kimchi product and controls the texture changes that take place during fermentation. Another area of research addresses the potential for instability in the supply and demand of key ingredients, due to factors like climate change. Additionally, by making sure we pursue the best packaging technology for use with fermented products like kimchi, we aim to keep our kimchi tasting great while also keeping its potent smell locked in before opening.
bibigo Kimchi Dominates the Global Kimchi Market
The strong growth of CJ CheilJedang’s bibigo Kimchi is thanks to its deep fermentation know-how, its wide-reaching research and development capabilities and its swift and effective localization strategies. But what does the company have in store for the future?
Q. Does CJ CheilJedang pursue the same strategies everywhere when expanding its kimchi products, or is each market a slightly different case?
Lim: In Japan, the second-largest kimchi market in the world, CJ CheilJedang aims to enhance bibigo’s brand competitiveness and build a product portfolio customized for local tastes. We have similar plans in Vietnam, where the company has a dedicated local production system and where we continue to strive to cement our position at the top of the market. In the long term, CJ CheilJedang intends to expand beyond Southeast Asia and reach new global markets through some of the same localization strategies we’ve been refining in Vietnam.
In the United States and Europe, where kimchi is not yet quite so well known, we plan to spread more awareness. Through locally produced kimchi, we want to break through into the mainstream North American market and provide products that can form a natural part of local food cultures.
In Europe, which is another critical market for the globalization of Korean cuisine, CJ CheilJedang will focus on increasing interest in kimchi through even more unique and specialized products, like vegan kimchi for health-conscious consumers and kimchi that can be stored at room temperature. All of this is part of a broader strategy to get more people excited about trying kimchi and incorporating it into their meals more often. Here at CJ CheilJedang, we’re aiming for nothing less than kimchi to become a staple food for enthusiastic customers the world over.
To explore CJ CheilJedang’s full bibigo product range and learn more about its plans for global kimchi success, visit [LINK].