South Korea seen as a springboard for companies to explore the international market and win consumers' confidence on safety issues, reports Lyu Chang in Seoul
For a number of years, the media has been riddled with reports of the poor quality of some Chinese food and beverages, ranging from infant milk formulas and pork contaminated by cancer-causing toxins or the use of excessive amounts of additives to water drawn from rivers containing hundreds of dead pigs.
But a collection of food companies in the world's largest exporter plans to change that perception and prove that it can match quality with quantity by qualifying for the coveted "Made in Korea" label.
Nine Chinese food companies, including Qingdao Nine-Alliance Group Co, Shanghai TDL Food & Beverage and Qingdao Foods Co, plan to move into a food industrial complex in South Korea to have better access to the food markets both in China and abroad.
Located in Iksan, about 44 kilometers south of Seoul, the complex, known as Foodpolis, will provide food-related research and development facilities and laboratories with services throughout the process of food production from content detection to packaging as well as creating residential areas for workers for more than 160 international food enterprises.
Officials at Foodpolis said they will provide administrative and legal support as well as preferential policies, including conditional 50 years of lease exemptions to Chinese companies to help them relocate to the zone.
Details on their investments have yet to be worked out, said an official in charge of overseas investment at the State-owned agency for Foodpolis, but these companies have all signed memorandums of understanding with South Korea's Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
The deals could allow the Chinese companies to label their goods as "made in Korea", a move that the official said is crucial to regaining public confidence in China following a series of food scandals.