Less Sugar, Colorings, and Preservatives, More Popularity
Good Farmer Rice Snack Made with Environment-Friendly Rice
A 15-minute drive from the Suncheon movie set (a filming site of A Werewolf Boy, the 2012 movie featuring Song Joon-ki) or from the Suncheon Bay Garden (one of the top tourist attractions in Korea), and you are at a cozy, picturesque village which housed one of the campuses of Ssangsa elementary school. That’s Ssangjitteul, the village producing Good Farmer Rice Snack which is sold in supermarkets in Chicago and California.
Safe Snacks Made with a Mother’s Passion
Until 2010, Ssangjitteul was the location of a Ssangsa elementary school campus. It was then remodeled and opened its doors as a traditional food experience center. From 2013, Ssangjitteul started exporting rice snacks overseas.
Ms. Kim Hae-ok, the CEO of Ssangjitteul, said, “I got married as soon as I finished high school and was a stay-at-home mom. But at the age of 40, I went back to school and received a bachelor's degree in hotel cooking and obtained several cooking certificates. That’s when I purchased the school lot and jumped into the traditional food experience business. Dealing with many children who came to the experience center, I wanted to make safer and better quality snacks for them, so I invented Good Farmer Rice Snack in 2013 with the commitment to use domestically-produced rice instead of flour for the children’s health.”
No Sugar, Colorings, or Preservatives…A Healthy Snack Made with Korean, Environment-Friendly Rice
From the beginning, Good Farmer Rice Snack has been using a puffing method in which a temperature over 100℃ and high pressure are applied in lieu of frying. However, Ms. Kim felt a limit to the company expansion since many competitors produce rice snacks in the same way. That is when she decided to focus on improving the quality of the products and first tried to subtract all the artificial additives such as sugar, colorings, and preservatives. However, without any additives, the snack tasted bland and did not sell well.
Then, Ms. Kim thought of experimenting with the main ingredient, rice. She started making the snack with fresh rice cultivated in an environment-friendly way by the farmers of Suncheon City. The resulting product was crispy and delicious and did not have a musty odor like products made with older polished rice which tends to naturally become damp and lose its nutritional value as time passes.
Earning Fans in the Region on the Word-of-Mouth and Getting Inquiries from Foreign Buyers
Thanks to its simple, clean taste and other merits, Good Farmer Rice Snack received positive responses from consumers and quickly became one of the most popular products in the region. After its customer base expanded by word-of-mouth, Ssangjitteul was able to start exporting. When Suncheon City Hall introduced local products to American buyers as part of the efforts to expand food exports, the buyers, hearing favorable evaluations of Ssangjitteul products, selected Ssangjitteul and contacted the company.
As a result, Ssangjitteul shipped 2,400 units (70g each) of Good Farmer Rice Snack to California in March 2014. Ms. Kim said, “Many American consumers liked our product. Just half a year after the first shipment, we sent another 12,000 units to the US—five times more than the first time. I believe that’s because of the outstanding safety and quality of Good Farmer Rice Snack."
Last year, Ssangjitteul succeeded in exporting the product to Chicago (18,000 units). At the present rate—by the July of this year, the company shipped to Chicago over 15,000 units—Ssangjitteul can expect to break the last year’s record.
The new target market is China. Korean baby food products are already popular there thanks to many advantages such as high quality and safety. In preparation to advance to the Chinese market, Ssangjitteul bought a new estate and is building a factory. Ms. Kim explains: “Currently, our manufacturing process is in the form of a cottage industry. If we aim at the global market, we need to build modern automated systems and have top-notch processing facilities.”