Daesang, a Korean general food company, will make history by opening the first kimchi production facility in the U.S.
The company revealed on March 29 that it would launch a Kimchi facility in Los Angeles to expand its reach and meet growing demand for kimchi in Western countries. It is already responsible for over 40% of Korea’s total kimchi exports.
“The U.S. market is important for our globalization plan for kimchi products,” stated a Daesang official. “Our American facility will help us cope flexibly with the global logistics crisis while strengthening the reach and development of the traditional staple food tailored to local tastes.”
The Daesang representative also added that the company has plans to expand and build more plants in the U.S. once its Los Angeles location proves “stable.”
With 20 billion won (approximately $16.4 million) invested in the production facility, and the capacity to make up to 2,000 tons of kimchi per year, the company anticipates an annual sales amount of 100 billion won (approximately $82.0 million) by 2025.
Daesang will reportedly rely on American suppliers for kimchi ingredients, such as napa cabbage and green onions, and will offer gluten-free and vegan kimchi options to better cater to locals.
Kimchi, a traditional Korean dish of fermented cabbage, was originally made as a way to enjoy vegetables in the winters, when it was too cold to grow anything. For thousands of years, Koreans stored kimchi in large jars that they buried into the ground to keep cool until the wintertime. Since it is fermented, kimchi can last years without spoiling or going bad.
Contrary to popular belief that there is a singular “traditional” flavor of kimchi, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of kimchi iterations, all specific to different regions of Korea. For example, the southern cities of Busan or Gwangju, which are located directly by the ocean, often incorporate more types of fish and seafood into their kimchi ingredients.
Why previous companies have not successfully attempted the herculean task of establishing a kimchi factory outside of Korea, is most likely because the dish requires several ingredients specific to the country. Without the correct peppers (Korean peppers, to be exact, which are distinct from those grown in the U.S.) or cabbages used, the unique flavors and colors of kimchi could easily be altered.
In addition to the U.S., Daesang plans to deliver its products all throughout Europe, Australia and Canada. The success or failure of Daesang’s L.A. kimchi facility will speak to whether the vibrant red dish can be replicated in other parts of the world.