Suji’s Korean Cuisine Founder Offers Advice at Fancy Food Show’s Foodservice Education Program
Breaking Through in Foodservice
Building a business in the foodservice industry can be a challenge for a veteran food manufacturer, and for someone new to the business, it may feel quite daunting. No one knows this better than Suji Park, founder of Suji’s Korean Cuisine, who has more than a decade of international business experience in the restaurant, retail and foodservice industries. Saturday, she shared her insights and pointers with attendees at the Summer Fancy Food Show’s Education Program, “Getting Started in Foodservice.”
“The most basic and most critical pointer I have is to learn the industry before you try to enter it,” Park advised. “This can save you costly mistakes and considerable time. It will also reassure buyers that you are serious about partnering with them, and understand their unique business needs.”Sujis Korean Cuisine product line
She explained that on her return to her native Korea after living in New York, she found she missed the relaxed and leisurely food culture of Sunday brunch, along with other American food traditions. This inspired her to open a New York style restaurant in Seoul, which grew into a group of restaurants, then a food development company producing convenient, all-natural foods from Korea, Japan, and the United States for easy preparation at home.
But branching out into the culinary world of the United States was different. To educate herself on the industry here, she signed up at French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Center) where she honed her appreciation of good food and gained an in-depth understanding of food-business management techniques. Realizing the value that the right business partners could bring her endeavor, she worked with key industry players. Her company, Food Dreams Made Real (FDMR) Inc., was the first international company inducted into the massive Nebraska Innovation Campus, a 2.2 million square foot research campus designed to facilitate new and in-depth partnerships between academia and private sector businesses – a partnership that she feels has given her a technological edge in packaging and formulating her frozen and refrigerated line of entrees and meals.
Park has distilled her advice for any food manufacturer wishing to enter the foodservice business down to three tips that have guided her own success.
Read the trends of the restaurant industry
The foodservice industry typically wants to provide restaurants with products that reflect what THEIR customers want. A foodservice provider understands and anticipates what the “end user” is seeking, so their customers are able to deliver products they need.
Know the foodservice industry specs
A good foodservice provider knows what works for his or her customer. They research package sizes that are needed (unit, case, pallet, LTL) necessary shelf life, how to provide clear and concise instruction manuals for both foodservice employees and, if appropriate, for the end-user.
The foodservice industry usually plans six months or more in advance. There are often rotation cycles where they review certain types of cuisine, different food departments such as sauce, frozen, refrigerated, or specialty items. You, as a supplier, need to work on their schedule.
“And perhaps the most important advice I can offer is to surround yourself with talent. I make it a point to work with outstanding managers and industry experts whose knowledge will make a difference in my business. Listening to these industry leaders and allowing them to do their job will move a company forward faster than any one person can do alone,” she said.
About Suji’s Korean Cuisine:
Suji’s Korean Cuisine brings delicious, authentic Korean flavors to the home chef in easy to prepare and personalize “clean label” refrigerated and frozen meals as well as shelf-stable sauces that instantly add a true-to-the-culture taste to foods. The company was founded in 2013 by international entrepreneur Suji Park, known for bringing America’s New York-style deli to Korea and Tokyo. Suji’s Korean Cuisine is based in Omaha, Nebraska.
To learn more about Suji’s Korean Cuisine, visit us at www.sujiskorean.com