The Misik White Rice [Image source : Harim]
South Korea’s leading livestock and animal feed company Harim Group is advancing into the bourgeoning meal kit market with premium products that use natural ingredients.
Korea has seen an explosive growth in the ready-made meal market amid a growing number of single-member households and years of social distancing that pushed consumers to stay at home. Many food manufacturers introduced simple meal kits and home meal replacements to meet surging demand.
Harim Group was one of them. It launched a premium home meal replacement brand “The Misik” last year that includes instant noodles, or ramyeon, and cooked rice. All of the 20 products under the brand are made of natural ingredients and do not contain food additives.
Harim introduced two types of Jangin Ramyun in May last year and expanded the category. It sells 10 types of cooked rice, two types of jajangmyeon, or noodles in black bean sauce, and 7 types of frozen soup packages.
Harim Group Chairman Kim Hong-kuk is behind The Misik brand launch. The brand is based on his idea that the company should introduce high-quality food to consumers using premium ingredients.
The Jangin Ramyun, for example, has a liquid-type broth concentrate made of vegetables, beef, and chicken. It also has many solid ingredients like carrots, spring onions, and dried shiitake mushroom.
Left : Harim Group Chairman Kim Hong-kuk [Photo by Lee Seung-hwan], Right : The Jangin Ramyun [Image Source : Harim]
The cooked rice products under The Misik brand also does not contain acidity control agents or preservatives that other instant rice contains. Those food additives are safe to consume as approved by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety but they usually cause an unpleasant odor from rice. The Misik instant rice is free from the smell as it is produced at a facility equipped with vacuum sterilization.
The rice also boasts a natural texture because its production process resembles how rice is actually cooked. The boiled rice is put to a rest for some time, which helps the rice to cool slowly.
There is a controversy, however, about the high price.
The Jangin Ramyun is priced at 2,200 won ($1.8) per package, which is more than double that of Shin Ramyun that is sold at 1,000 won. The Misik White Rice is sold at 2,300 won, which is higher than 2,100 won of CJ CheilJedang’s instant rice.
Harim Group nevertheless plans to continue to put quality over other things.
“It would be right from a marketing perspective to have products sold at a cheaper price,” said an unnamed official from Harim. “But what will remain longer in the market will eventually be quality products made of fresh ingredients.”
As part of efforts to respond to growing demand, Harim added one more manufacturing line for instant rice at one of its processed food factories in Iksan, North Jeolla Province, in September last year, which increased maximum monthly production capacity to 4 million units.
Harim is also expanding presence in the premium pet food market through its subsidiary Harim Pet Food that was established in 2017. It launched premium brands including The Real with an aim to produce healthy and safe pet foods. Harim Pet Food raised 31 billion won in sales last year.
By Song Kyung-eun, Jin Young-hwa and Han Yubin
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]