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Cardiff-based Korean sauce company picks up coveted food award

Mama Halla is owned by Mi-sook Kang, who hails from Jeju Island in South Korea

A Cardiff-based Korean food company has scooped two stars in the highly regarded Guild of Fine Foods Great Taste Awards 2020 after just six months of trading. Mama Halla received the award for their Korean Hot Sauce which is made with sundried chilli flakes sourced direct from the grower in South Korea.  

Judged by 144 highly regarded food critics, chefs, buyers and retailers, Great Taste is one of the most coveted of all speciality food and drink awards. In their review of Mama Halla’s Korean Hot Sauce, the Great Taste judges noted that “this is clever, well judged, well balanced stuff… [I]t would be a useful condiment in any store cupboard.”

Mama Halla is owned by Mi-sook Kang, who hails from Jeju Island in South Korea, a part of the country known for its volcanic landscape. Having moved to Cardiff to join her Welsh partner, she fell in love with the city and decided to build a business in the capital drawing on her passion for food.

Mama Halla sauce can be found at farmers markets in Cardiff

Unimpressed by the range of Korean products available on shelves in the UK, Mi-sook set up Mama Halla and resolved to make her own range of condiments using authentic recipes and Korea-sourced ingredients.

To help get her business off the ground, Mi-sook turned to ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre at Cardiff Metropolitan University. One of three Food Innovation Wales Centres located across Wales which delivers the Welsh Government and EU-backed Project HELIX, ZERO2FIVE were able to provide Mama Halla with a range of technical support.

A ZERO2FIVE technologist supported Mama Halla with their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Plan, a fundamental food safety document for any food manufacturer. Together they worked through the company’s manufacturing processes, looking at how Mama Halla made their products and how they could ensure they were produced safely every time.

During lockdown, the company contacted ZERO2FIVE again for support, this time with nutritional analysis of their products. Using nutritional calculation software, ZERO2FIVE were able to calculate the nutritional details for Mama Halla’s Korean Hot Sauce and Vegan Kimchi; information which is used on the company’s product labelling.

Mi-sook Kang, founder of Mama Halla, said: “Winning this award is a massive vote of confidence for our products after such a short amount of time. The support from Food Innovation Wales has been vital in helping me achieve what I’ve done so far with the business.”

Professor David Lloyd, Food Innovation Wales, said: “It’s great that Project HELIX has been able to help an innovative start-up like Mama Halla establish a foothold in the marketplace. From new businesses, to established companies, the technical and commercial support available through Project HELIX can help Welsh food and drink manufacturers to grow and reach new markets.”

Mama Halla now sells their range of Korean condiments on a weekly basis at Riverside and Roath Farmers Markets in Cardiff.

Project HELIX is supported through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Union.