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[Interview with a Resident Company] SFCBIO


Making a Successful Entry into the Latin America Market with Various Support Programs 

Many watermelons will sell only in the summer season. Seong-gyu Kim, CEO of SFCBIO, however, successfully developed the world’s first watermelon drinks and healthful foods, which contain anti-oxidants and tonics of natural origin with his undaunted struggle against adverse circumstance. Watermelon Soda and Watermelon Choco Cake, made with real watermelon instead of artificial flavors, are now enjoying much popularity in the global market.


Watermelon Soda and Watermelon Choco Cake with Anti-oxidants of Natural Origin

CEO Seong-gyu Kim, a son of a farmer, has shown keen interest in farm produce since elementary school as he often helped his parents in the fields when he was a little boy. For the past ten years, his main focus was watermelons.


“I’ve accumulated a lot of experience in food and pharmaceutical companies, and always wanted to use our farm produce and my expertise to develop new products” explained Mr. Kim. “After I succeeded in developing a new food ingredient, I started to develop a watermelon drink.” Watermelon Soda was the first fruit of his endeavors to develop a new drink using the original food ingredients he has developed.


“A reliable supply of watermelons was a big challenge because they are harvested mainly in summer, which can cause an issue regarding long-term storage and processing of the ingredients,” added Mr. Kim. “Nevertheless, through many trials and errors we’ve developed a new variety of watermelons which have higher lycopene content compared to regular watermelons.”


Such reliable supply of ingredients accelerated development of new products, Watermelon Soda and Watermelon Choco Cake, which are available in convenient stores in Korea, showing strong sales increasing from 5 million cans in 2016 to 8 million cans in 2017. Currently, SFCBIO has concluded a sponsorship agreement with a major soccer club in Korea in order to launch a new drink.


Overcoming Limitations of a Small Company with the Help of the National Food Cluster

SFCBIO moved into the Korea National Food Cluster in 2017 as a ‘smart farming creator’ because it was a practical solution to various difficulties facing a small company such as packaging development and operation of an animal lab.


“Product development was an important factor but, at the same time, we had to prove our quality and R&D capacity to overseas buyers, which was a major challenge for a small company like us.”


The company’s Watermelon Soda won the Grand Prize at the Agriculture and Food Science & Technology Exhibition held by the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MIFAFF) in October 2018.

Although many had doubts about the success of the product, Watermelon Soda is being exported to seventeen countries including Japan, the USA, China, and Brazil.


More recently, the company concluded an export agreement with Brazil for 100 containers of Watermelon Soda.

“Our goal is to make food not only in a safe but also smart ways as a bio-venture,” says Mr. Kim, comparing the company’s future to the rosy color of a watermelon. “To that end, we will develop new varieties of fruit and vegetables and also effective production, distribution, and export management systems designed for products made with our own functional ingredients utilizing the infrastructure of the National Food Cluster, which can lay a solid foundation for our future.”


Seong-gyu Kim, CEO of SFCBIO


What is the strength of SFCBIO?

In the market you can hardly find healthy food using watermelons and, if you can, most of the products actually contain artificial flavors copying the taste and flavor of the fruit. Watermelon Soda and Watermelon Choco Cake are the world’s first healthy foods made with real watermelons and no food additives. You can feel the real taste and flavor of a watermelon and can benefit from its nutrients.


What was your biggest concern before moving into the National Food Cluster?

Most small and medium-sized food businesses constantly suffer from lack of funds, human resources, technologies, and facilities needed for production and R&D activities. This makes it more difficult for them to develop a new product and to successfully compete with large companies. After moving in the Korea National Food Cluster, however, we have found almost everything we need is provided within the complex and we can freely utilize the R&D facilities and resources prepared for us, and such strong support helped us conduct various tests and experiments to develop and improve products without difficulties.


What are your futures plans and what further support do you need?

I can’t share details of our future plans due to security issues, but we’re developing a very unique beauty drink, unprecedented product just like Watermelon Soda. This new drink will mainly target Japanese, Vietnamese and American markets, and a new production factory will be constructed in 2019 to promote the new item. We continue to look forward to support from the National Food Cluster in this regard and also close cooperation with other relevant organizations for a successful product launch.

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