Market Information   >   Food News Clipping

Food News Clipping

April 16 - 23, 2020


FAS/Seoul Monitoring of Media Reporting on Agricultural Issues

Today's Date: Thursday, April 23, 2020

For Coverage: April 16 ~ 23, 2020​




On-line Shopping Exceeds Off-line Shopping in March, Consumer Insight Survey

Summary: Consumer Insight, a consumer research firm in South Korea, released outcomes of its March survey (1,000 people).  People surveyed replied that 60.7 percent of their shopping expenses in March went to on-line purchases and the remaining 39.3 percent went to off-line purchases.  Consumer Insight pointed out that it was the first time that consumer spending in on-line shopping exceeded off-line shopping since it started the monthly survey in 2017.  Young consumers in their 20-30's showed the highest ratio of on-line spending (67.3 percent of their spending went to on-line shopping).  People living alone (66.8 percent) and families with kids (66 percent) also showed higher ratio of on-line spending.  Consumer Insight added that the Korean retail market would undergo a dramatic change under the COVID-19 outbreak.


'PaBa Delivery' Offers Fresh Baked Bread

Summary: Paris Baguette, a leading window bakery shop franchise in South Korea that operates some 3,500 stores nationwide, reported that 2,800 of its stores now offer on-line order home delivery service via its application, PaBa Delivery.  Paris Baguette pointed out that one popular function of the application is an automated messaging, alarming consumers of the time that fresh baked bread is offered in a nearby store.


South Korea - China in 'Fast Track' Discussion to Exempt Business Travelers from Self-quarantine Requirements

Summary: South Korean Ambassador to China, Hasung Jang, reported on April 20 that South Korea and China are in 'fast track' discussions to allow business travelers to travel between the two countries without being subject to a 14 day self-quarantine requirement due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  According to Ambassador Jang, business travelers would need to have a COVID-19 negative testing result (certificate) to board flights.  Travelers would take an additional COVID-19 test upon arrival in the counterpart country and would start business activities without a 14 day self-quarantine if the arrival testing confirms no infection.  Ambassador Jang said that both countries intend to come to a final agreement as soon as possible.


Lotte Mart Reports 30% Sales Growth of High Brix Fruits

Summary: Lotte Mart, a leading hypermarket store chain in South Korea, reported that its high brix fruit program (Golden Brix Fruits) saw 30 percent sales growth in March this year compared to the same month last year.  Golden Brix Fruits are premium quality fruits that contain at least 20 percent more sugar than regular fruit.  Lotte Mart has developed some 40 fruit varieties under the Golden Brix program, including strawberries, tomatoes, pears, and apples, through close collaboration with local growers since February 2019.


Bank of Korea Offers $4 Billion U.S. Dollar Additionally ... Part of $60 Billion Currency Swap Fund from the Fed

Summary: The Bank of Korea (BOK) announced it will provide an additional $4 billion U.S. dollar to the market via an auction on April 21.  The $4 billion is part of the $60 billion currency swap that the Bank of Korea secured from the U.S. Federal Reserve in March.  The Bank of Korea has already staged three auctions, offering a total of $24.5 billion to the market.  However, only $10.7 billion of the funds found bidders in the previous auctions.


Price of Local Onions and Garlic Drops due to Over Production Last Year

Summary: According to the Korea Agro-Fishery Marketing Corporation (aT), the price of local onions and garlic was 1,000 won ($0.8 USD) and 3,240 won ($2.7 USD) per kilogram on average so far this year respectively, down 20 percent and 50 percent from regular year prices.  aT pointed out that the weak price of local onions and garlic is due to over production last year.  As a result, the acreage for onions and garlic declined 32.6 percent and 8.4 percent respectively this year to 14,673 hectare and 25,376 hectare.


Warm Spring Generates Strong Sales of Summer Foods

Summary: Korean retailers and processors have reported an early rise in summer food sales due to warm spring this year.  The average temperature in South Korea this March was 7.9 degree Celsius (46.2 degree Fahrenheit), the second highest in record.  Retailers reported strong sales growth for water melon (10 percent growth in EMART during April 1-15 compared to the same period last year), ice cream (20 percent growth by Binggre during January through April 15), and spicy summer noodles (new products launched by major instant noodle processors during the first quarter reported early successes).


ROKG Extends Social Distancing until May 5 … But Eases Some Measures as New Infections Decline to Single Digits

Summary: The Korean government announced on April 19 that its COVID-19 social distancing policy is extended until May 5.  However, the government lifted ‘recommended closing’ on private educational institutes, religious facilities, sport facilities, and recreational facilities.  As a result, national parks will likely reopen for public visitors and professional baseball games will start the season (without spectators) as early as early May.  The number of new infections reported in the country has continued a gradual decline to 8 as of April 19.  The government said the week of May 5 presented a critical risk for re-spreading of the virus as many Koreans will engage in social activities for Buddha’s birthday (April 30), Children’s Day (May 5) and Parents Day (May 8).


‘Untact’ Shopping Tools Generate Strong Sales for Leading Foodservice Companies under COVID-19

Summary: Leading foodservice companies in South Korea reported their sales through ‘untact (no-personal contact)’ shopping tools saw strong growth during the COVID-19 outbreak.  Starbucks Korea reported that orders through its ‘Silent Order’ smart phone application increased 25 percent during the first quarter.  In addition, drive-through orders increased 30 percent.  Silent and drive-through orders together accounted for over 20 percent of total sales.  McDonald Korea reported that drive-through orders and home delivery orders increased significantly during the first quarter to account for over 60 percent of sales.  Two out of three McDonald stores in Korea offer drive-through pick-up.  Paris Baguette, the leading window bakery store franchise, reported that the number of its stores that offered home delivery service increased rapidly during the first quarter and now 80 percent of its 3,500 stores offered the service.  Home delivery sales during the first quarter were triple the same period last year.


Employment Rate Declines to 11 Year Low in March

Summary: Korea National Statistics Office (NSO) released on April 17 its monthly employment data for March 2020.  According to the data, national employment rate (for people of 15 years or older) marked 59.5 percent, down 0.9 percent point from the same month last year.  It was the first decline marked in the employment rate since January 2010.  Industries that led the reduced employment were retail & wholesale (-168,000 people), hotels & restaurants (-109,000 people), and education service (-100,000 people).


Korean Government to Provide $6.2 Billion of COVID-19 Emergency Relief Funds to 70% of Households

Summary: Korean government submitted a bill to the national assembly on April 16 that would provide 7.6 trillion won ($6.2 billion) of COVID-19 emergency relief funds to 14.8 million or lower 70 percent of the households if ratified.  The amount and scope of the relief funds would likely expand as parties proposed larger amount of funds targeted to 100 percent of the households. 


Korea to Impose Anti-dumping Tariff on Vietnamese Plywood

Summary: Korea Trade Committee (KTC) announced on April 16 that its investigation had found serious impact in the local plywood market caused by increased imports of low-price Vietnamese products during 2016 through the first half 2019.  According to KTC, Vietnamese plywood saw a rapid export growth to take 50 percent of Korean imports.  Local plywood producers requested an anti-dumping investigation to KTC.  KTC ruled 9.18 to 10.65 percent anti-dumping tariff to Vietnamese plywood producers.


Retailers Stage In-store Promotions on Fresh Spring Fruits

Summary: Major Korean retailers have staged various in-store promotions under the theme of spring fresh fruits.  Shinsegae Department Store launched on April 16 a promotion on Jeju island apple mangos, blueberries, and Delaware variety grapes.  Lotte Mart launched on April 16 a promotion on imported American mandarine oranges.

 Price of Abalone Plunges due to Reduced Demand in Restaurants and Reduced Exports to Japan

Summary: According to the Korea Ministry of Marine and Fisheries, price of abalone (farmed in local sea) declined about 33 percent in wholesale markets in April compared to the same month last year.  EMART, the leading hypermarket store chain in Korea, started to sell abalone for 29,980 won ($24 USD) per 1 kilogram box from April 16, offering about 48 percent discount from regular price.  The weak price of abalone is due to reduced demand in restaurants and reduced exports to Japan under COVID-19.  Abalone exports to Japan totaled 106 metric tons in March, down 13.4 percent from the same month last year.don


6 Out of 10 People Telework for COVID-19

Summary: Hunet, an education service firm in South Korea, reported that its recent survey of 636 office workers found that 61.6 percent of them experienced telework during the COVID-19 outbreak.  The most common length of telework was 1 to 2 weeks (41.8 percent) followed by less than 1 week (19.4 percent), 2 to 3 weeks (16.3 percent), over 1 month (13.3 percent), and 3-4 weeks (9.2 percent).


Apple to Reopen Stores in South Korea on April 18 ... First Foreign Market to Reopen Outside China

Summary: Apple Korea announced that its stores in South Korea would reopen on April 18 after closing on March 15 for COVID-19 risk.  Apple Korea pointed out that Korea was the first foreign market outside China that Apple reopened stores.

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