MiVT: Sunja’s Kimchi

Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 2:29 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 29, 2021 at 8:12 PM EDT
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WATERBURY, Vt. (WCAX) - For the past 26 years, the folks at Sunja’s Kimchi in Waterbury have been turning out top-notch jars of the superfood.

“She was convinced that the Americans were going to start eating healthier and she felt that kimchi was the Korean superfood,” said Dave Hayden, Sunja’s husband and the co-owner of Sunja’s Kimchi.

Businesswoman Sunja had the idea to remove some of the sugar, MSG and fish juices to appeal more to an American audience.

“I will say that I was a naysayer. I didn’t really think the American palate, if you will, was ready to be Kimchi-ed up,” joked Dave.

As it turns out, Sunja was right. Kimchi is now a popular superfood in America, best known for gut-health benefits.

“Korea has given her two awards in our 26 years as a businesswoman that furthered the knowledge and value of kimchi,” Dave said.

In a true sign of the times, WCAX News did not get to meet the famous Sunja because she was getting her COVID vaccine.

Fortunately, Dave was there to show us around their facility.

We got to meet some of his small but longstanding crew, working hard to make their product.

While they try to source from Vermont farms as much as possible, it’s not always an option. With the team turning out 7,000 lbs. of cabbage a week, they have no choice but to source from other American farms.

Currently, they produce one all-natural kimchi, four organic versions and a kimchi salsa. They’re widely distributed across the country in Whole Foods stores, but they’re also available at local markets and co-ops in Vermont.

Sunja’s Kimchi is working hard to bring quality, big Korean flavor from their small Vermont town.

“All of the employees understand how important the brand is. As I tell them, you know, when you finish packing that jar of kimchi, is that something that you will take off the shelf yourself? If it isn’t, put it aside and we’ll redo it,” said Dave.

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