Ukrainian pet food producer Kormotech enters South Korean market

The company becomes the first from Ukraine to export pet food to South Korea.

2 Lisa Selfie December 2020 Headshot
In South Korea, 67% of pet food sales occur through online channels.
In South Korea, 67% of pet food sales occur through online channels.
Irenna_____ | Pixabay

Kormotech, a pet food producer based in Lviv, Ukraine, has become the first from Ukraine to export pet food to South Korea. Kormotech’s super-premium dog and cat food brand Optimeal and the premium brand Club 4 Paws are now available on South Korean specialized online platforms.

"The pet food market in South Korea ranks third after China and Japan in East Asia,” said Eduard Babenko, head of the strategic business unit for Ukraine, Moldova, and Southeast Asia. “In terms of monetary volume, it is three times larger than in Ukraine. The sales share for specialized dog and cat food is 50% each.

"However, the uniqueness of the South Korean market lies in the fact that 67% of pet food sales occur through online channels," he continued. "It is the highest rate in the world, according to Euromonitor reports. Therefore, one of the challenges in cooperating with South Korea is gaining experience in building and developing online sales in the markets."

Vladyslav Mazurkevych, manager for developing export markets in Asia at Kormotech said negotiations with the distributor, the Korean company Careside Co. Ltd., began last year. "We signed a cooperation contract in the fall,” explained Mazurkevych. “At the end of May this year, the first two containers of dry and wet pet food, Optimeal and Club 4 Paws -- about 24 tons of products -- were unloaded on the distributor's side. On June 17, our products appeared on South Korean e-commerce platforms."

According to Mazurkevych, Kormotech's super-premium and premium pet food lines are already represented on 12 e-commerce platforms in South Korea: Naver, Coupang, TM, WM, G-market, Auction, 11th St., Lotte On, Interpark, SSG, CJ on style and GS Shop.

"At the same time, by the end of this year, we want to start cooperating with pet store chains and veterinary clinics so that customers can see the product, examine it, and feel it," said Mazurkevych.

Kormotech is successful in the European market and has the experience and resources necessary for global cooperation, noted You Young Kook, CEO of Careside Co. Ltd. "Such international success indicates that similar achievements can be expected in the South Korean market,” said Kook. “Pet food from Kormotech contains high-quality ingredients and undergoes strict quality control. It is a significant advantage, especially for the discerning pet parents of Korean animals.

"It is impressive how the company continuously deepens its expertise in understanding approaches to creating pet diets and their impact on four-pawed friends' health and quality of life. Most importantly, it tries to develop the pet care and companionship culture, demonstrating our dedication to our mission and the well-being of pets."

South Korea has discerning consumers, retailers

Babenko said the typical South Korean consumer is extremely picky when choosing a product. They delve into the most minor details of the product's composition or the origin of specific ingredients. Not only is the South Korean consumer demanding, but so are business representatives, said Babenko.

“The distributor Careside Co. Ltd. is remarkably constructive and meticulous,” he said. “It is easy to work with a well-argued and clear decision-making partner. It allows for building a systematic, understandable, and detailed model of communication and relationships. Compared to other Asian markets, the South Korean partner has a very high standard for building work. Overall, a partner sets points to which one must strive regarding organizing processes, deadlines, etc. And this is motivating.”

Last year, Kormotech achieved a turnover of $152 million and increased its share of foreign sales to 31%. The foreign to Ukrainian sales ratio is now 31% to 69% in tons, respectively.

The Kormotech brands showed the most dynamic growth in sales volume compared to the previous year in the markets of Romania (+35%), Poland (+11%), and Moldova (+11%). Last year, the company signed contracts with partners from Malaysia, started sales in Finland, and actively developed in the markets of Spain and Italy — expanding its presence to 42 countries worldwide. At the same time, Kormotech maintained its leading position in the Ukrainian market, said the company.

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