For information on agricultural products including bulk commodities or processed foods and the distribution channels in Korea, please see the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Exporter Guide 2014.
When considering the Korean market, US food exporters should conduct preliminary research to determine if the market is appropriate for the product. Possible sources of market information include Korean importers, US state departments of agriculture, the US Agricultural Trade Office in Seoul and the US Department of Commerce. Lists of Korean importers, by product, can be obtained from the US Agricultural Trade Office. The next step might include sending catalogues, brochures, product samples, and price lists to prospective importers as a way of introducing the company and products.
Once contact is established, it is advisable to visit the importer(s) in person, which will increase the seller's credibility with the Korean importer and give an opportunity to see the Korean market first hand. In Korea the clichés about "seeing is believing" and "one visit is worth a 1,000 e-mails" are especially true. Especially in Korea, there is no substitute for face-to-face meetings. The supplier or exporter should bring samples as well as product and company brochures including price lists, shipping dates, available quantities, and any other information needed for negotiating a contract. While information in English is acceptable, having it in Korean is especially helpful. A general overview of the firm in Korean is a good place to start.
The Seoul Food and Hotel Show 2015 presents an excellent opportunity to explore possible market opportunities in Korea. This show is a trade only show and targets importers, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, hotels, restaurants, food processors, media, etc.