The origins of rice can be found in ancient China. Some of the oldest relics giving us evidence of rice cultivation, dating from the prehistoric era through to about 7,000 years ago, can be found around Ningbo and Hangzhou along the Yangtze River. Rice is believed to have come to Korea via traders flowing downstream along the Yangtze and then across the sea.
Once having accepted rice from China in the past, Korea is now exporting rice to China. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has announced that a ship carrying 72 tons of rice produced in Korea departed Pyeongtaek Port and is heading to China’s Dalian Port.
This is the second time for Korea to export rice to China. The country exported 30 tons of rice to China for the first time through Shanghai Port on Jan. 29 this year. The two countries worked swiftly together to set up the framework for Korea to export rice to China after the Korea-China summit that took place in September last year.
Korea exports five kinds of popular local rice varieties to China, including Odae rice from Cheorwon and Sindongjin. Each of the rice varieties is packed in small 2 kilogram bags, as per most Chinese customers’ preferences. Korea’s Daewoo International Corporation is carrying out the exports, and the importer is the China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation (COFCO), a Chinese state corporation in charge of food imports and exports. Chinese consumers will be able to pick up their Korean rice at Korea’s Lotte Mart, which currently operated in the country, and at other department stores, large retail outlets, convenience stores and online shopping malls, all in cooperation with the COFCO.
Korean rice is twice as expensive as that of Chinese rice. Despite the high price, however, Chinese consumers are taking an interest in Korean rice as they see it as having a tasty and luxurious image.
A COFCO representative who inspected Korea’s rice processing and production facilities said, “Chinese customers have some uncertainties concerning local rice because of issues of safety, such as metal contamination of the land. Korean rice will be competitive if the country exports high quality Korean rice targeting a premium market of middle and upper class people in China.”
By Yoon Sojung
Korea.net Staff Writer
Photos: Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs