All food and beverage products exported to Korea must be approved by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS – formerly known as KFDA) before they are cleared through Customs.

Due to MFDS regulations, when an importer and distributor in Korea decides to take on a new brand or product range, they will often import at least 100kg per SKU in their first shipment so that the goods qualify for registration in the MFDS system. This involves a single lab test and document review for each SKU that normally takes about two weeks.

Until this 100kg threshold is met and the goods are officially registered, MFDS will test each and every shipment that is imported. This is expensive and time consuming for the importer.

However, MFDS are very strict and it is quite common for goods to fail their stringent lab test and document review process. This results in the goods being destroyed or shipped back to origin at the importers expense.

Therefore, a prudent importer in Korea will import a small commercial shipment in order to go through the MFDS testing process. If the goods fail, then the financial loss is not significant. The distributor can then work with the exporter to make the required amendments to the product and/or the supporting documentation and then try again with another shipment.