Market Information   >   Food News Clipping

Food News Clipping

January 11 - 15, 2020


FAS/Seoul Monitoring of Media Reporting on Agricultural Issues

Today's Date: Friday, January 15, 2021

For Coverage: January 11 ~  15, 2021

Hyundai Department Store Launches New Zealand King Salmon
Summary: Hyundai Department Store announced on January 14 that it launched King Salmon imported from New Zealand in 10 of its branches in and around Seoul.  The premium fish is offered at 50,000 won ($45 USD) per kilogram. 


Korean Government Confirms 62nd HPAI Outbreak in Local Farms This Winter
Summary: The Avian Influenza Management Center under the Korean government reported on January 14 that two additional local farms tested positive for High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).  As a result, the number of local farms that had HPAI outbreaks this winter increased to 62. The government ordered mandatory depopulation of birds in all farms within 3 kilometers of the farm where HPAI was detected.  However, there is a voice against the depopulation measure in the industry as some farmers think the measure is excessive and not science-based. 


Korean Government Reports 941 Cases of ASF in Wild Hogs
Summary: The African Swine Fever (ASF) Management Center under the Korean government reported that the number of ASF infected wild hogs found in the country totaled 941 as of January 14.  The center said that the areas where the ASF hogs were found were spreading.  The center said it would deploy stronger measures to prevent the hogs from spreading further south, including fences and hunting, while maintaining disinfection practices in swine farms. 


'Probiotics' will be the Most Popular Health Functional Food in 2021 

Summary:  Korean health supplements marketers forecast 'Probiotics' will be the most popular health functional food this year.  The Korea Health Supplements Association (KHSA) surveyed 240 marketing managers in its member companies.  In the survey 74.2% (multiple responses allowed) answered that ‘probiotics’ will be the favorite functional food in 2021.  Probiotics are known as a functional ingredient for intestinal health and became popular in the market around 2017.  In 2020, it ranked second in the health supplements market following red ginseng, and emerged as a raw material leading the domestic health supplements market.  When asked what functional area would be popular this year, 79% said 'immune function (multiple responses allowed)' reflecting the increased interest in immunity due to unseasonable weather and the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic.  Intestinal health (45.2%), skin health (29%), better sleeping (19.4%), and body fat reduction (17.7%) followed. 


South Korean Food Exports Up 7.7% to $7.6 Billion in 2020 

Summary: The Korea Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) reported on January 13 that Korean food exports amounted to $7.6 billion in 2020, up 7.7 percent from the previous year.  Both processed products such as instant noodles, infant formula, hot pepper sauce, and rice cakes (up 8.8 percent to $6.1 billion) and fresh products such as grapes, kimchi, and ginseng (up 3.4 percent to $1.4 billion) generated solid export growth due to elevated foreign consumer awareness of Korean cuisine.  Japan remained the leading export market ($1.3 billion), followed by the United States ($1.2 billion) and China ($1.1 billion).  Exports to the United States saw the most growth (up 38 percent), followed by South Asian countries (up 9 percent). Exports to Japan declined 6 percent. 


Strawberry Farms are Busy Harvesting New Crops in the Middle of Winter 

Summary: Strawberry farms in Damyang county, Junnam province are busy picking new season fruits in green houses.  Most fruits are upgraded, premium varieties, containing as high as 14 brix sugar, grown in an environment-friendly way. 


MFDS to Re-evaluate 9 Functional Food Ingredients, Part of 10 Year Reassessment Process 

Summary: The Korea Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) announced on January 14 that 9 ingredients approved for use in functional foods will be re-evaluated for safety and functionality this year.  The 9 ingredients include spirulina, propolis, and gamma linoleic acid.  MFDS explained that its Functional Food Act mandates reassessment of approved ingredients every 10 years.  Outcomes of the reassessments will be reported in December. 


MFDS to Expand 'Nutrition & Allergen Labeling' on Recipes Offered in Franchise Restaurants 

Summary: The Korea Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) plans to expand its 'nutrition and allergen labeling' requirements on recipes offered in franchise restaurants from July 2021.  Currently nutrition and allergen labeling is required in franchise restaurants if the number of restaurants under the franchise is 100 or larger.  The labeling requirement will be expanded to franchises that operate 50 or more restaurants.  The information required on the label are calories, protein, fat, sugar, sodium content and use of 22 allergenic ingredients such as eggs, milk, peanuts, shrimps, and wheat. 


Leading Korean On-line Retailer Saw 41% Growth in Sales 2020 

Summary: According to an analysis by WiseApp (on-line research service) released on January 12, Coupang, the leading on-line shopping platform in South Korea, generated an estimated 21.7 trillion won in cash-register sales ($20 billion) in 2020, up 41 percent from the previous year.  The number of shoppers accessing Coupang increased 20 percent during 2020 to 15.4 million people.  Coupang Eats, a subsidiary in the restaurant meal delivery business, saw 900 percent increase in member shoppers to 2.1 million people.  Coupang has initiated the process to go public and recently passed the preliminary review by NASDAQ.  The estimate value of the company is $30 billion. 


CJ to Establish Processing Facility in South Dakota for Bibigo Brands 

Summary: CJ Cheiljedang, the leading food processor in South Korea, reported on January 12 that it acquired 138 acres of land in Sioux Falls, South Dakota where it plans to build a facility to process Bibigo brand products such as frozen dumpling and other HMR prepared foods.  CJ currently operates three processing facilities in the United States (CA, NY, NJ).  CJ said that the new facility in South Dakota will provide an important momentum to expand its U.S. business. 


"Take-out Lunches in Convenience Stores Contain Too Much Sodium", Korea Consumer Agency 

Summary: The Korea Consumer Agency (KCA) reported on January 13 that its survey found high amounts of sodium in take-out lunches offered in convenience stores.  KCA said that the amount of sodium in the lunch boxes was 1,361mg on average, which is 68 percent of the daily intake allowance for adults set by the government. 


Busan Fishery Auction Market Transacts Record High Volume of Yellow Tail on January 13 

Summary: Busan Fishery Auction Market, a leading distributor for locally caught fish, reported that it handled a record highly daily volume of yellow tail sales (200,000 heads) on January 13.  The sales generated in the auction amounted to 700 million won ($640,000).  The yellow tails were caught near Jeju island.  Yellow tail is one of the most sought after premium fish among Koreans during the winter.  


GS Retail Offers Innovative New Products Co-developed with Food Startups 

Summary: GS Retail, a leading retail company in South Korea, reported on January 13 that it started to offer unique new products that it developed in a partnership with startup food processors.  The products launched include "Fake" coffee beverage alternatives processed from barley, low-sodium lunch boxes, greek yogurts in tubes, and HMR Japanese home style meals. 


Young Koreans Report Shifts in Consumption … Food Up, Clothing Down 

Summary: Newsis, a Korean on-line news media, reported on January 11 outcomes of its recent survey of young Korean consumers (600 people in their 20-30's).  Over 97 percent of consumers answered that their consumption and lifestyle shifted after the COVID-19 pandemic.  "Untact" and "Convenience" were the key themes behind new life styles and behaviors that young consumers opted for after the pandemic.  85 percent of young consumers replied that their food consumption changed.  44 percent reported increased spending on food, 65 percent increased spending on home delivery foods, 49 percent decreased dining out, 47 percent increased home cooking, and 24 percent increased spending on Home Meal Replacement products.  On the other hand, 67 percent of young consumers said they reduced spending on clothing during the pandemic. 


Retail Price of Local Rice is 15% Higher than Last Year due to Reduced Harvest 

Summary: According to the Korea Agro-Fisheries and Food Trade Corporation (aT), the retail price of local rice averaged 59,709 won ($54.3 USD) per 20 kilogram bag on January 7, up 15.4 percent from the same period last year.  The high price was due to reduced harvest last year, 3.5 million metric tons, which was the lowest amount in 52 years.  The Korean government is working to release 180,000 metric tons of its reserve rice to the market by February.  But marketers remain worried that the supply may not meet the demand for both table and processing rice.  Processors of rice cakes plan on using more imported rice. 


ChuemChurum Lowers Alcohol Content to 16.5% … Other Soju Brands Likely to Follow to Attract Young Consumers 

Summary: Lotte Chilsung, a leading alcoholic beverage processor in South Korea, reported on January 11 that it lowered the alcohol content in its flagship soju brand, Chuemchurum, from 16.9 percent to 16.5 percent.  Other soju brands will likely follow the move as the industry tries to attract young consumers with lower alcohol products. 


Nongshim Launches Its Vegan Brand ‘Veggie Garden’ Business in 2021 

Summary: Nongshim Group will start the business of its vegan food brand ‘Veggie Garden’ from this year.  The Veggie Garden brand combines convenience food with plant-based meat substitutes utilizing manufacturing technology developed by Nongshim Research Institute and Taekyung Nongsan, a subsidiary of Nongshim Group.  Veggie Garden consists of 18 products including cooked frozen foods, instant meals ready-to-eat, sauces, seasonings, and vegetable cheese along with plant-based meat substitutes. 


Oasis, On-line Shopping Platform for Fresh Organic Agricultural Products, Doubles Its Sales in 2020 Based on Low Prices 

Summary: Oasis (, established in 2011 as a neighborhood small organic grocery store chain and turned into an on-line shopping platform in 2018, has become a strong contender in the on-line organic grocery retail industry as it offers much lower prices than other competitors.  For example, the price of fresh organic milk and free range chicken eggs offered in Oasis for early morning home deliveries is about 50 percent cheaper than similar offers in Market Kurly.  The key for the low price offers by Oasis is direct purchases from farms and low overhead costs based on its internal capacity to develop all information technologies needed to upgrade the platform.  The 39 off-line stores under Oasis are also part of the low price strategy, offering products nearing shelf-life expiration at clearance prices.  Oasis’ cash-register sales almost doubled in 2020 from the previous year to 250 billion won ($227 million USD) with net profits soaring to 10 billion won ($9 million). 


Price of Eggs Rises as HPAI Outbreaks Continue … 50 Cases as of January 10 

Summary: The Korea Institute for Animal Product Quality Evaluation reported on January 10 that the price of fresh eggs in the market was 6,082 won ($5.5 USD) per package of 30 eggs on average.  The institute said that the egg price rose to the highest level since its market price survey started in March 2018.  There has been a total of 50 cases of High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreaks confirmed in local poultry farms this winter as of January 10.  Over 15 million birds have been depopulated as a result. 


Korean Households Purchased Processed Foods Less Frequently, while Increasing Purchases Online 

Summary: MAFRA and KREI surveyed 2002 households on their purchase and consumption of processed foods from July to September last year, as well as the purchase status of convenience food, health functional food, and food consumption behavior and awareness.  The result shows that the frequency of purchase of 'processed foods' decreased while online purchases increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year.  50.2% of the surveyed households answered they buy 'processed foods' 'once a week'.  The rate of households purchasing 'more than once a week' decreased from 75.2% in 2019 to 70.9% in 2020, while the rate of those purchasing once every other week increased from 17.9% to 23.2%. 


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