|▲ CEO Lee Tae-geum|
There is no need to say how much Koreans love pork. There almost always is pork where people gather together whatever the occasion is. 24.5kg out of the whole 49.1kg meat consumption per person in Korea was ‘pork’ reported in 2017 by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Koreans enjoyed pork just as it was in the past but more and more people tend to adventure in finding better and more unique taste today since the market is open for the world. <Power Korea> met Lee Tae-geum, CEO of Enrich Food, the sole importer of Spanish Iberico de Bellota (black pork) from the Spanish company ‘Sanches Romero Carvajal’ famous for Jamon 5j; the pork is known to be used to make Jamon (Spanish ham).
Iberico de Bellota eats 12kg of acorns and olives in open field
The black pig is named as such because they grow in a protected zone, sized bigger than Jeju Island, in the Iberian Peninsula. The black pig is categorized according to its breed and breeding: Bellota 100%, Bellota, Cebo de Campo and Cebo; Bellota 100% among them is the topmost grade (Iberico 0.01%) benefiting that a pig is provided an open land sized around two football stadium alongside 60 acorn trees and abundant pastures for 18 to 22 months; they eat around 12kg acorns and olives per day during the dehesa period and only slaughtered between December and February.
1263 is a franchise run by Enrich Food and all importing process is strictly followed by the grading rules of the Spanish government. “Most Iberico pork circulating in Korea is hybrid but we import the topmost Iberico 0.01% pork which is even rare and expensive in Spain. The breeding is very strict and particular so the mass production is impossible. It is regretful to know that a recent test in Korea shows that around 10% pork marked with Iberico are not Iberico but white pork. In other words, Korea needs stricter rules on marking and commercials” says Lee.
No funny smell, No antibiotics
Flavor, chewiness and rich smell are the three characteristics of Iberico de Bellota 100%. The marveling is eye-popping, the flavor lasts longer in mouth and the after-taste is clean. Some gourmets recommend enjoying it without sauce and some compare it with the first grade Korean beef.
“The breed, the feed and the environment are the important factors to decide the taste. Iberico de Bellota 100% has no funny smell because they eat acorns and olives and grow in the open field.”
Iberico de Bellota 100% is rich in vitamin B and E, oleic acid (55%) and unsaturated fat (70%). What is more, Iberico de Bellota 100% is antibiotics-free (70%) and GMO-free. It is said in Spain to eat even in raw according to Lee.
Cheaper price than the local
Lee worked as a Korean royal cuisine chef until 1997 and jumped in the livestock industry afterwards. He came to know about Iberico de Bellota when he business tripped in Spain. He was shocked at the very first taste of Iberico de Bellota 100% and immediately launched a research in the local. He found that the forelegs and hind legs cost more than Korean beef and Jamon around USD 396 per kg. He signed a contract with Cinco Jotas and is importing around 180 tons of Iberico de Bellota 100% a year and providing the pork at cheaper price than the local for Korean pork lovers through 40 Iberico de Bellota 100% meat corners nationwide.
“I will keep spreading the excellent taste and quality of Iberioco de Bellota 100% to more and more Korean people through our own brand 1263” says Lee.
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