Success Stories

B.C. Company Sows Seeds of Success in South Korea

B.C. Company Sows Seeds of Success in South Korea

South Koreans are feeling the love for B.C. hemp hearts. In 2016, Gibsons, B.C.-based, Canada Hemp Foods Ltd. saw demand spike for its products in South Korea – accounting for 95% of the company’s sales ($18.4 million CAD). Fifty-pound bags and 2000lb totes of its nutritious hemp hearts kicked up a buying frenzy on South Korean home shopping channels, and have since become a South Korean supermarket staple.

Trends are big business in South Korea, where the population is over 50 million people. Canada Hemp Foods’ hemp hearts were first picked up by South Korea’s Welcome LS for their TV Home Shopping Channel a few months after the 2015 Seoul Food & Hotel Show with a “small” order of one 20-foot shipping container of product. On January 6, 2016, in just 20 minutes, their entire stock of 66,000 150-gram sample packs (sold in units of 11) sold out. When the company placed a second order for a 40-foot container of product, other companies, including home shopping channel hub Tricom Trade, took notice and placed orders to capitalize on the South Korean hemp heart “buying frenzy”.

Canada Hemp Foods hemp hearts, which are raw hulled hemp seeds, are easy to sell to health-conscious South Korean consumers. They are a rich source of digestible protein and are packed full of fatty acids, vitamin E, iron and other essential nutrients necessary for human health. They also contain Super Omega-3 (SDA) and Super Omega-6 (GLA) that help metabolize fat, are grown naturally without pesticides or chemicals, and are GMO free, gluten free, and 100% THC free.

The shopping channels marketed Canada Hemp Foods hemp hearts as an easy way to add protein and nutrients to the South Korean diet. They could be eaten straight from the bag as a nutritious and tasty snack or added to rice and cooked dishes for a “nutty, buttery taste that adds great flavour to every meal”.

The initial frenzy for the new product has levelled out and, in the meantime, Canada Hemp Foods has carved a strong niche in the South Korean agrifood market. From April to December 2016, Canada Hemp Foods’ largest customer, Hanwha Corporation, ordered a total of 33 shipments worth over $6 million, to supply Emart, Lotte and Home Plus retail outlets. Canada Hemp Foods and Hanwha intend to continue this successful relationship through 2017 and beyond.

Canada Hemp Foods continues to leverage B.C.’s key business advantages to grow its  international market. The company is able to fill just-in-time delivery orders because of its prime location next to the port of Vancouver, which provides quick inspections and the shortest shipping route to Asia from North America. Additionally, B.C. has outstanding trade agreements that allow B.C. goods to move more freely to international markets. This includes the Canada-South Korea Free Trade agreement (CKFTA), the first trade agreement signed by Canada with an Asian country, which came into effect in January 2015.

Canada Hemp Foods’s President and CEO, Robert Rae is thankful to B.C.’s Ministry of International Trade for supporting his company to “take the plunge” into South Korea. British Columbia’s trade and investment team in Korea supported Canada Hemp Foods participation at the 2015 and 2016 Seoul Food & Hotel Shows, and Canada’s “Table Top” industry shows in South Korea. The B.C. trade and investment team assisted Robert to build engagement with South Korean partners and they continue to support Canada Hemp Foods and its distribution partner, Chanvre Korea, to increase their sales.

To learn more about British Columbia’s thriving agrifood sector, contact our international Trade and Investment Representatives.

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