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A variety of products produced by Korean Sahmyook Foods.

Photo courtesy of Korean Sahmyook Foods.

Korean Sahmyook Foods (Sahmyook Sikpoom)

By Kwang Jin Chon

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Kwang Jin Chon attended Seoul Sahmyook Elementary, Middle and High School and graduated from Sangji University (Department of English Literature and Education) (1985) and Graduate School of Policy Management, Dankook University (Department of Business Administration) (2015). He successively served as Sales director, Former Overseas Sales director (U.S.), and the Sahmyook Foods Bonghwa Establishment manager. He has been working at Sahmyook Foods for the past 31 years and is the CEO of Sahmyook Foods.

Sahmyook Foods (Sahmyook Sikpoom) was founded in 1982 and based on the slogan, “The realization of love for humanity through health all over the world.” The mission and purpose of the organization is to contribute to the health of mankind as a profit-making organization of the Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church Educational Foundation. It also takes social responsibilities, such as spreading the health gospel, fundraising for educational work, creating jobs for Adventists, and local community service and food contributions. As of 2021, 410 employees serve at five establishments. Sahmyook Foods is located at 354-13 Seongjin-ro, Jiksan-eup, Seobuk-gu, Cheonan-si, Chungcheongnam-do, Korea.1

Developments that Led to the Establishment

Sahmyook Foods was founded as a result of the development of College Food,2 which operated as a revenue-making business at Sahmyook University. The business department at Sahmyook College began producing dairy products like Sahmyook milk and Sahmyook ice cream and natural foods such as honey and whole wheat bread, by installing food processing plants during the 1970s.3 However, since facilities for food production were lacking at the dairy processing room operated by the college’s business department, the production of natural foods other than dairy products was prohibited by the government. Thus, the Korean Union Mission founded Sahmyook Foods, realizing the need for a food company producing natural foods. Since Sahmyook Foods was designed and promoted to get ready for the future of Sahmyook Milk, the business department invested 50 million won (about US$50,000) in the establishment of food factories. In addition, it provided bakery facilities, canning equipment, grain dryers, and millstone hand mills, etc., as the initial equipment of Sahmyook Foods.4

Korean Union Mission appointed a food factory establishment committee at its annual administrative committee on December 17, 1978. D. C. Keith was assigned as the chairperson of the committee, and Bo-Deok Lee was assigned as the manager.5 This meeting resolved to launch Sahmyook Foods as a profitable company for the benefit of the Educational Foundation at Sahmyook College. The types of foods produced would include soy milk, vegetable meat, and bakery products, and the factory would be located at 320 Panjeong-ri, Jiksan-eup, Cheonan-si Chungcheongsan-do. This was the foundation of the establishment of Sahmyook Foods.

Founding of the Institution

After the food factory establishment committee was appointed, it took more than three years until Sahmyook Foods was founded. The Sahmyook College’s Business Department led the food business during that period. It had already been producing Sahmyook Milk—or Mat Duyu (soybean milk)—considered the pioneer soy milk in 1975.6 Sahmyook Foods was established with this soymilk as a staple product. Bo-Deok Lee was appointed the first manager in 1978. He purchased land on which to build the factory in 1979 and established the factory in 1980. In 1981 additional land was purchased as an approach to the factory.7

While the factory was being constructed, an effort was made to produce products simultaneously. Chung-Yeo Yun was appointed as the second manager of the food factory on March 1, 1981.8 He took over food processing machines from Sahmyook University on July 14 of that year. On September 28, food production specialist, A. P. Wiltshire from the South Pacific Division, was invited as a technical adviser. In December 1981 machines were installed in the factory and, under Wiltshire’s instructions, it entered full-scale food production, starting with canned products in early February 1982. The products produced at the time were four items: Veggie Burger, Veggie Meat, Veggie Links, and Nuttina9 Two months later, on April 21, 1982, construction was completed on the main building of the food factory and Sahmyook Foods, with soymilk as its main item, began operation in earnest. This date was designated as the founding day to commemorate.

History of the Institution

The development of Sahmyook Foods began in May 1985, when it produced and placed the first pouch of soya milk (Soymil, Soyrak) on the market.10

Starting with the production and sale of soya milk in pouches, Sahmyook Foods automated the pouch filler in 1986, extended factories and warehouses from 1987 to 1989, and installed Tetra-Pak machines to produce Tetra-Pak soy milk in1988. With the completion of Bonghwa Establishment in 1995 and Unju Establishment in 1993, the foundation was laid for a general food company which would produce New Start Ramen, dietary fiber drinks, Fightin by Bonghwa Establishment, juice drinks and sports drinks, and Recall by Unju Establishment.11

As the soy milk production facilities at Cheonan Establishment and facilities at Unju and Bonghwa Establishments began to operate in earnest, additional products included noodles, sports drinks, and fruit drinks; then infant soy milk (1998), strawberry-flavored and banana-flavored soy milk (1999), and chocolate-flavored soy milk (2000) were added to broaden the buying public to children and infants, and to adapt to rapid changes in new markets.12

During this period, Sahmyook Foods installed automated pouch production lines to meet consumers’ demands and launched various products such as high-calcium soy milk, black sesame soy milk, green tea soy milk, black bean calcium soy milk, sweet soy milk, and morning good soy milk. In 2006 the Bonghwa Establishment began producing bottled soy milk products, extending the bottle container line. As of 2021, the black color blast has continued in the food industry.13 With stabilization resulting from the black color success, Sahmyook Foods concentrated on the integration and expansion of its corporate brand image through a proclamation ceremony in 2008. Also, as part of the development of the eco-friendly organic protein food business, Unju Establishment took over Loving Vegetarian Olche in 2009.14

In a move to becoming a general food corporation, Sahmyook Foods took over the organic distribution company, Sahmyook Organic Natural Food in 2010. It launched Stages 1-4, subdividing the kinds of baby soy milk by growth stage in 2010, and launching organic premium soy milk in 2011. At the time, the sales quantity of soy milk exceeded US$300 million.15

The main products of Sahmyook Foods were developed by the food laboratory set up by the company. The food laboratory developed a variety of products in pursuit of the best products for the health and happiness of modern people, using vegetable ingredients according to the health message of the Adventist Church. In particular, it is developing products using the high-tech equipment such as gas chromatography, high performance liquid chromatography, induction-combined plasma light emitting devices, real-time polymerase chain reaction, and UV-spectrometer. Through the research activities of the food laboratory, it has produced various soy milk products such as Red Ginseng Soy Milk in 2010, Walnut & Almond Soy Milk in 2012, Melon Soy Milk in 2013, Aramond (almond milnk) in 2014, Mixed Grains Soy Milk in 2015, Sweet Potato & Pumpkin & Banana Soy Milk in 2016, Black Sesame Soy Milk in 2018, and Black Sugar Soy Milk in 2019.16

As a result of these efforts, Sahmyook Soy Milk has developed into the second-largest product in the current soy milk market in Korea. In 2020 Sahmyook Foods produced 4,000,000 soy milk products and sold them to Korea, China, Vietnam, and other countries. The operating profit of Sahmyook Foods is used to support the educational work of ten elementary schools, eight middle school, seven high schools, and two universities in KUC. Along with Sahmyook University, Sahmyook Seoul Adventist Hospital, and Sahmyook Foreign Language Institutes, Sahmyook Foods plays an important role in expanding the influence of the Adventist Church in Korean society.

Historical Role of the Institution

When the Sahmyook Foods Establishment Committee was formed in 1978, the purpose of the establishment of Sahmyook Foods was in keeping with Ellen White’s health recommendations, as follows; (1) To provide safe foods for the Korean people; (2) To support Sahmyook Educational Institution financially with profit from the food factory; (3) To use the health foods produced as a way to communicate the Adventist Church’s health message; (4) To provide Adventist youth with opportunity for employment; and (5) To finance spread of the gospel by the Middlewest Korean Mission with the tithe of profit from the food factory.17

For the past 40 years or so, Sahmyook Foods has achieved the purpose of its establishment. It has done its best in spreading the Adventist Church’s message of health promotion in Korean society. It also became the greatest contributor to the financial support of education, so that 27 educational institutions under the Korean Union Conference are operating successfully. Many buildings of Adventist elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and universities were constructed by revenue from Sahmyook Foods.

Overview

Sahmyook Foods, which has taken over a protein food company and an organic distribution company based on soy milk business, received a $5,000,000 Export Tower award on the 54th Trade Day in 2017, and a $10,000,000 Export Tower award on the 55th Trade Day in 2018. It expanded its business to the overseas market, launched an oil production business by producing sesame oil and perilla seed oil at Unju Establishment in 2016, and took over Sahmyook Fisheries, located at Boryeong in Chungcheongnam-do in 2018, to start a laver (edible seaweed) production business. Sahmyook Foods has continuously grown as a general food corporation, expanding its business from soy milk in 1985, through organic protein food in 2009, organic distribution in 2010, oil production in 2016, to laver production in 2018, and it will continue to grow toward a better future.18

List of Managers/Directors/Presidents

Bo Deok Lee (1978-1981); Chung Yeo Yoon (1981-1997); Jong Hyeon Song (1997-2000); Jin Gyu Oh (2000-2008); Sin Kook Park (2008-2011, 2016-2020); Tae Hun Kim (2012-2015); Giwon Son (2020-2021); Kwang Jin Chon (2021-present).

Sources

Han, Sang-Woo. People who Love Beans. Korean Publishing House, 2007.

Comprehensive Report on Sahmyook Foods Diagnostic Assessments. Seoul: Korean Union Conference, 2020.

Church Compass, January 1995.

Lee, Kuk Heon. A History of Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church. Seoul: Sahmyook University Press, 2020.

Lee, Kuku Heon. “College Food, Korea.” Accessed July 8, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=A8BJ&highlight=college|Food.

Lee, Kuk Heon. History of One Hundred Years of Sahmyook University. Seoul: Sahmyook University Press, 2009.

Minutes of the Executive Committee of KSDA. Seoul: Korean Union Mission, 1981.

Minutes of the General Meeting of KUC. Seoul: Korean Union Conference, 1983.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2020.

Notes

  1. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2020), 224.

  2. Kuk Heon Lee, “College Food, Korea,” accessed July 8, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=A8BJ&highlight=college|Food.

  3. Kuk Heon Lee, History of One Hundred Years of Sahmyook University (Seoul: Sahmyook University Press, 2009), 408.

  4. Church Compass, January 1995, 20.

  5. Minutes of the Executive Committee of KSDA (Seoul: Korean Union Mission, 1981), 3.

  6. Kuk Heon Lee, A History of Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church (Seoul: Sahmyook University Press, 2020), 269.

  7. Minutes of the Executive Committee of KSDA (1981), 4.

  8. Ibid. (Resolution No. 78-521).

  9. Minutes of the Executive Committee of KSDA (1981), 4; Church Compass, Jan. 1995, 20; Minutes of the General Meeting of KUC (1983), 1.

  10. Sang-Woo Han, People who Love Beans (Seoul: Korean Publishing House, 2007), 61-87.

  11. Ibid., 104-133, 102 [History of Unju Factory], 150 [History of Bonghwa Factory].

  12. Ibid., 133.

  13. Ibid., 184.

  14. “History of the Sahmyook Foods Cheonan Establishment,” Comprehensive Report on Sahmyook Foods Diagnostic Assessments (March 2020. Report to Korean Union Conference Organizational Assessment Committee), 67, 189.

  15. Ibid., 67, 189.

  16. http://www.sahmyook.co.kr/contents/about/about3.html?sm=1_3.

  17. Minutes of the Executive Committee of KSDA (1981), 3.

  18. Ibid., 190.

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Chon, Kwang Jin. "Korean Sahmyook Foods (Sahmyook Sikpoom)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. July 08, 2021. Accessed September 23, 2021. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=38GM.

Chon, Kwang Jin. "Korean Sahmyook Foods (Sahmyook Sikpoom)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. July 08, 2021. Date of access September 23, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=38GM.

Chon, Kwang Jin (2021, July 08). Korean Sahmyook Foods (Sahmyook Sikpoom). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved September 23, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=38GM.