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S. Korea firms diversify exports to India

All Headlines 10:25 July 06, 2018

NEW DELHI, July 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korean companies are pumping up their efforts to diversify export items to India as they seek to tap deeper into Asia's third-largest economy, industry sources said Friday.

So far, South Korean companies have focused on such manufacturing sectors as autos, chemicals, electronics, steel and machinery, but their recent push represents a strategy of finding new growth engines in India with great growth potential.

Leading the pack are South Korean food companies and fruit growers, which are eager to discover new revenue sources in the fast-growing economy with a population of 1.3 billion, the world's second-largest after China.

In March, Ottogi Co., South Korea's second-largest maker of instant noodles called "ramyeon," started exporting a veggie noodle product to India, targeting Indian vegetarians who make up nearly 30 percent of the country's population.

Years earlier, South Korean instant noodle makers tried to make forays into the Indian market, but they fell by the wayside due to strict labeling rules and other regulations.

Ottogi, however, had carried out a thorough survey of Indians' tastes and the country's food laws since 2016, with its latest veggie ramyeon obtaining a certificate from the food safety regulator here.

This file photo taken on May 17, 2018, shows an Indian woman trying Ottogi Co.'s veggie instant noodle at an event in a food store in New Delhi. (Yonhap)

The veggie noodle product is currently on sale not only at large stores in New Delhi and Mumbai but also at restaurants frequented by Indians, according to Ottogi.

"India is expected to grow into an instant noodle market worth 1 trillion won ($890 million) by 2020. Initially, Ottogi aims to export 10 billion won worth of ramyeon to India by that year," a company official said.

Instant noodles are not the only product of note. South Korea has also recently succeeded in exporting pears to India.

According to the local daily Economic Times, the Indian government recently gave the go-ahead to imports of South Korean pears and other fruits. South Korean pears will be sold to consumers after being treated in low temperatures and fumigated.

"Pears will become the first South Korean fruit imported into India. The move will give more options to Indian consumers," a local food industry source said.

India imported $15.2 million worth of pears between April 2017 and February 2018, mainly from the United States, the Commonwealth of Independent States and South Africa.

This undated file photo shows pears produced in Naju, one of South Korea's most famous pear-producing areas. (Yonhap)

In addition, Lotte Confectionery Co., a key food unit of South Korean retail giant Lotte Group, currently operates a factory in Noida, northern India.

Orion Corp.'s Choco Pie cake and other South Korean food products are also popular among Indian consumers. Choco Pie -- an individually-wrapped, chocolate-covered, marshmallow-filled snack cake -- sells in other foreign countries, including China and Russia.

On top of South Korean foodmakers' push into the subcontinent, companies already operating in India are redoubling efforts to upgrade their businesses by exploring new areas and taking other measures, the New Delhi office of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) said.

"Automakers are shifting their focus to electric cars, while manufacturers of electronics and electric goods are seeking localization of parts production in a departure from complete knock-down (CKD) kits," a KOTRA official said.

According to informed sources, shipbuilding and startups have emerged as promising industrial sectors as the Indian government has put forward a set of measures to boost those areas.

Despite India's support measures, South Korean companies are still confronted with a poor environment for corporate establishment and living in the country, they added.
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