September 24, 2015

Finnish food companies should head to Korea

Ossi Ritvos

Manager, Korea Business Center Helsinki

For Koreans, the small and distant country of Finland brings to mind mostly positive things.

Koreans know the “hyvää, hyvää” catchphrase uttered by Santa Claus in the Xylitol ads, Finland’s Northern Lights, saunas, clean nature and Taru, a Finn who became famous on a Korean reality TV show. In the public sector Koreans are benchmarking the Finnish school system. Cultural exchange has also taken off through active exchange programmes at universities and visits by Korean bands to Finland.

Koreans, as a people, are incredibly interested in functional food products. When a Korean businessman visits Helsinki, the trip, more often than not, involves a visit to a health food store from where the businessman exits with copious amounts of blueberry powder and chaga mushroom products. Other Koreans are particularly after chewing gums with a Xylitol content that is as close as possible to 100 per cent.

The outlook for Finnish natural products is thus extremely positive in Korea. For example, the cosmetics company Lumene launched its brand in the country last year, in particular, through the medium of television advertisements portraying Finnish nature.

This is the perfect time for Finnish manufacturers of natural products and functional foods to partner up with Koreans. Gaining entrance to the Korean markets is no easy task but Finnish companies can find the right partners at, for example, the Seoul Food fair, one of Asia’s largest food sector events, organised annually in May.

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