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The Korean food staple kimchi appears to be rising up the shopping lists of health-conscious Brits, with exports to the UK rising 23% last year.
In 2019, more than £2.5m worth of kimchi products were exported to the UK. This year, between January and September, that figure had already risen to £2.1m.
For the uninitiated, the fermented food product is made up of a variety of vegetables such as cabbage, radish and cucumber, with a combination of seasoning, including red pepper powder, garlic and ginger.
The most common of the more than 200 varieties of kimchi is made with Chinese cabbage, but it’s the fermentation process that gives the dish its enviable health credentials. Kimchi is rich in vitamins A, B1 and B2, as well as calcium and iron.
The plant-based food, which is typically served as a side dish, is also packed with amino acids and probiotics – living microorganisms that are present in foods like yoghurt and cheese, which help aid digestion and strengthen the immune system.
Junga HA, director at Korea Agro-Fisheries and Food Trade Corporation’s European office in Paris, said, “Kimchi is truly at the heart of eating here in Korea. You could no more imagine a diner in Seoul forgoing kimchi than a Brit opting for roast beef without Yorkshire pudding.”
In fact, the Guardian reports that about 95% of Koreans eat kimchi more than once a day, while more than 60% have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, according to South Korea’s cultural heritage administration.
“It’s a tasty and healthy food option and we’re delighted consumers in the UK are enjoying the benefits Kimchi has to offer,” said Junga HA.
The growing taste for kimchi ties in with a rising desire among consumers to prioritise their immune health following the outbreak of Covid-19. Innova’s Consumer Survey 2020 found that six out of 10 global consumers are increasingly looking for food and beverage products that support their immune health, with one in three saying that their concerns about immune health increased in 2020 over 2019.
“Immunity-boosting ingredients will play a significant role in the coming year, while research and interest in the role of the microbiome and personalised nutrition as ways to strengthen immunity will accelerate,” the report said.
While kimchi has been touted as a superfood in recent years, the export data shows that it is gaining further traction today as consumers embrace the eating-for-health trend.
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