Korea will soon be able to resume shipping kimchi to China as regulators on the mainland are set to ease rules on one of Korea’s most representative dishes, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Friday.
The news came after the Korea-China summit between President Park Geun-hye and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Saturday, where the latter said China will take steps to bring made-in-Korea kimchi back to the mainland as soon as possible.
In February, the Chinese government revised its sanitary and quarantine guidelines on Korean kimchi to allow it to be imported and sold to Chinese consumers. But Korea has not been able to ship kimchi because Chinese regulators have not taken the necessary administrative steps to get the trade going.
Until 2009, Korea exported kimchi to China, but in 2010 the Chinese government strengthened its rules on Korean kimchi and other imported food. It did not recognize kimchi as a fermented food and imposed a guideline that kimchi cannot contain more than 30 colitis bacteria per 100 grams.
Citing the rule, China has been blocking Korean kimchi for the past six years.
The Korean government had been pressing China to ease the rules or draw up new guidelines allowing Korean kimchi to be sold in China.
Korea’s imports of Chinese kimchi have surged over the past few years, while the nation has not been able to export kimchi to China.
According to the Korea Customs Service, the country exported only 24,742 tons of kimchi in 2014, while it brought 212,938 tons of kimchi from overseas, 99 percent of which came from China.
Following China’s revision of its sanitary rules in February, the agriculture ministry and the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety formed a taskforce to prepare for China’s resumption of Korean kimchi. They have been working with producers in areas of customs clearance, marketing and distribution.
The agriculture ministry plans to announce measures to boost kimchi exports to China as soon as the latter completes changes to its administrative codes.
“On the back of China’s revision governing the number of bacteria contained in kimchi and other fermented vegetables, we will take all possible steps to capitalize on China’s 1.35 billion consumer market,” an agriculture ministry official said. “We will closely work with related state agencies and private companies to successfully resume kimchi exports to China and increase its popularity among Chinese consumers.”