#Power of Businesses l 2019-05-27
Today, we’ll introduce you to Harim, a pioneer of Korea’s agro-food business and poultry processing firm that set a new milestone in the local broiler industry. Let’s hear from Kang Ki-cheol, director of the sales division of the company.
Harim was founded in 1986 as Harim Food. The company’s sales in 2018 reached 828.5 billion won, which is roughly 750 million US dollars, and it employs 2,460 workers. In the 1980s, demand for chicken exploded in Korea, with chicken franchises growing fast. Against the backdrop, Harim continued to grow. In 1997, it was listed on Korea’s secondary bourse KOSDAQ. It has now become a leading food and agri-business enterprise with an integrated management system that encompasses grain distribution, animal feed, shipping, livestock farming, butchering and processing, food manufacturing, distribution and sales.
Harim’s founder Kim Hong-kuk is dubbed a “living legend” in Korea’s poultry industry. When he was an elementary school student, Kim received ten chicks from his grandmother as a gift. He sold the chickens when they grew up and bought more chicks. The experience opened the young boy’s eyes to the livestock industry. So the ten chicks turned out to be the beginning of what we now know as Harim Group.
In the mid-1980s, seasoned spicy chicken enjoyed huge popularity in Korea. Thanks to surging demand for chicken, Harim’s business had smooth sailing from the beginning. The company established the nation’s biggest chicken processing plant in 1991 and a mixed feed plant in 1992 to expand its business. Harim is Korea’s first livestock company that introduced the integrated management system, which Mr. Kang just explained. As the nation’s largest poultry processing firm, Harim has been willing to pave a new road in the industry.
In 2012, we started operating the nation’s first animal-friendly production system in our processing plant in Jeongup, North Jeolla Province, in an effort to improve animal welfare. A similar production line has also been installed at another factory in Iksan in the same province.
People should be happy, of course, but we believe that we should make animals happy, too, in the course of raising them because chickens that grow in a happy and comfortable environment will have a positive influence on people eventually. Consumers are increasingly aware of this issue. With our comprehensive breeding-processing-distribution system, we’ll continue to lead the industry.
Harim became the first Korean firm to introduce an animal-friendly production line in its plant in 2012, when the public was still unfamiliar with the concept of “animal welfare.” The company’s standards to manage its chickens are even stricter than those for animal welfare set by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Having earned the animal welfare certification, Harim’s poultry farms use natural ingredients made from plants for poultry feed, which is devoid of animal protein, and give chickens green vegetables like cabbage as a snack. Inside large cages, chickens can freely hang around and take naps perched on a roost. Oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration is adjusted at an appropriate level so chickens can sleep for more than six hours a day.
The concept of animal welfare is also applied in chicken processing, which is conducted in the company’s “smart factory.”
Harim’s smart factory is equipped with advanced technology optimized for enhancing the safety of processed meat. Perfect sanitary conditions are the greatest concern in the entire process, including poultry farming and slaughtering.
In addition to safety, we focus on freshness, which determines the taste of chicken, just as fresh-caught fish tastes good. Most chefs agree that they should use ingredients in their freshest state to produce the best possible flavor. Our smart factory boasts technology of maintaining freshness.
For the first time in the industry, Harim introduced a smart factory equipped with the planet’s fastest, high-tech slaughtering and processing facilities. The company uses the “gas stunning” system to make poultry unconscious before slaughter. In its “full air chilling” system, the chicken is chilled by cool air, not water, to maintain the freshest meat and ensure a rich and more concentrated chicken taste. Overall, the production system is optimized for keeping the original taste of chicken intact.
Harim’s new brand “Greeners” has been certified by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for animal welfare and no antibiotics. More and more consumers are showing interest in animal welfare, and Harim’s products will surely meet their demands. The company is also challenging the home meal replacement market.
For young people who find it difficult to cook spicy braised chicken as easily as their mothers but still want to enjoy the delicious food, our home meal replacement product might be the answer. Another semi-processed product is spicy stir-fried chicken, which can be mixed with seasonings. With simple recipes, consumers can enjoy those dishes easily and conveniently. We could also provide seasonings or ingredients tailored to consumers who consider animal welfare.
In line with the ever-increasing number of single-person households and a growing number of young people seeking fast and convenient ways to enjoy their meals, the local home meal replacement market or HMR has grown by an average of 21 percent per year.
To jump on the HMR bandwagon, which is viewed as a new blue ocean, Harim launched ready-to-eat seasoned chicken products last year and also began to build a comprehensive food complex that accommodates facilities for manufacturing HMR products, natural seasonings and ready-to-heat rice. By bringing innovation to the distribution process, Harim aims to take another leap forward.
Harim isn’t satisfied with the current status of Korea’s largest chicken brand but will continue to take up new challenges for the ultimate goal of becoming a global food company.
Our smart factory produces fresh ingredients and our research and development center in a newly-built complex is developing more HMR products that best meets the taste buds of consumers. We’re also researching ways to reduce distribution costs effectively and thus give more benefits to consumers. We could create a new distribution structure that directly connects the producer with consumers. We’re working on a one-day delivery system, in which butchered poultry as well as pork is delivered to consumers the same day. As I said, we’re making all these efforts with the purpose of becoming a leader in the global food industry.
Harim’s relentless challenges enabled the company to build an innovative system to integrate poultry farms, processing factories and the market as one. Having constantly explored new possibilities in the food industry, Harim is moving closer to its goal of becoming one of the world’s top food companies.