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Food News Clipping

May 08 - 13, 2020


FAS/Seoul Monitoring of Media Reporting on Agricultural Issues

Today's Date: Wednesday, May 13, 2020

For Coverage: May 8 ~ 13, 2020​ 


Department Stores Report Weak Sales and Earnings in the First Quarter

Summary: Shinsegae, a leading department store chain in South Korea, reported on May 13 that its cash-register sales during the first quarter amounted to 1.2 trillion won (about $1 billion USD), down 21 percent from the same quarter last year.  Operating profits declined 97 percent to 3.2 billion won ($3 million USD).  Shinsegae Department Store reported that reduced consumer traffic due to the COVID-19 outbreak caused the drop in profits (duty free stores were especially hard hit).  Hyundai Department Store, another major player in the industry, reported a 13 percent decline in sales and an 80 percent decline in operating profits during the first quarter.


'Good Agricultural Practices' Certified Farms Increase Rapidly ... More than 100,000 Farms

Summary: The Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) reported on May 12 that the number of local farms certified for 'Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)' exceeded 100,000 at the end of 2019, about 10 percent of all farms in KoreaThe GAP program started in 2006 in Korea.  MAFRA reported that more producers will join the GAP program as consumer demand for quality and safety continues to rise.  An increased number of retail stores will likely require GAP certification. 


Half a Million People Lost Jobs in April, Korea National Statistics Office

Summary: The Korea National Statistics Office (NSO) released its monthly labor market statistics for April.  According to the data, the number of people with jobs totaled 26.6 million, down by 476,000 from the previous month.  NSO reported that it was the largest decline in employment since February 1999 (658,000 people) when Korea was hit by the 'Asian economic crisis'.


Decline in Credit Card Spending Eased in April

Summary: According to credit card industry data released by a member of the National Assembly, Kwangon Park, on May 13, credit card spending in South Korea totaled 54.5 trillion won ($44 billion USD) in April, down 2.9 percent from the same month last year.  The monthly decline was small than the -6.7 percent decline in March.  During the COVID-19 outbreak credit card spending on on-line shopping increased by 36.5 percent (February), 22.7 percent (March), and 21.3 percent (April) compared to the same months last year as consumers opted for safe 'un-tact' shopping.  On the other hand, credit card spending for off-line shopping declined by -0.1 percent (February), -11.8 percent (March), and -6.9 percent (April).


EMART Offers 1 Million Bottles of Wine for In-store Promotion ... Including Natural Wine

Summary: EMART, the leading hypermarket grocery store chain in South Korea, will stage an in-store sales promotion for wine from April 14 through 20.  A total of 1 million bottles will be offered at special discounts (20 to 70 percent off the regular price).  EMART reported that the promotion includes 1,000 bottles of natural wine imported from France.


Korea Yakult Acquires Distributorship of 'Sunkist' Fruits and Vegetable Processed Foods in Korea

Summary: Korea Yakult Company starts working with the global food and beverage brand “Sunkist” to target the fruit & vegetable processed foods market in Korea.  On May 8th, Korea Yakult signed an MOU with FB Holdings, the official business owner of the Sunkist brand in Asia, for exclusive distribution and sales of the "Sunkist Freshcut" product line to Korean for the first time.

 The lineup will include seven products at first, including three types of 'Sunkist Fruit Angel' (tangerine, mango, pineapple), 'Sunkist Puree 100' (apple), and three types of 'Sunkist Juice Cups' (tangerine, mango, pineapple). 


ASF Virus Infected Wild Hogs Spread to 7 Areas … Swine Industry is Concerned about Further Spread

Summary: The Korean government monitoring program found 604 wild hogs (mostly dead bodies) tested positive for African Swine Fever (ASF) virus in 7 areas along the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) since the program started in October 2019.  Animal health experts warn that the government should introduce stronger measures to eradicate this disease before it becomes a chronic, long-term issue.  All the ASF infected wild hogs are believed to have originated from China or North Korea.  One tool recommended by animal health experts is constructing fences across the full length of the DMZ boarder to prevent hogs from coming South.  The government has been installing fences only in the 7 areas where ASF hogs were found so far.  The government plans to launch ‘Center for Wild Animal Disease’ this year to research and manage ASF and other animal diseases more efficiently.


Summer This Year will Likely to be the Hottest in Years

Summary: The average temperature in South Korea during May 1-10 this year was 18.7 degree Celsius, which was 0.9 degrees higher than regular year average over the last 20 years.  Many local meteorologists have said this summer will likely be the hottest summer in years.  U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) also reported on April 16 that it is highly likely (74.7 percent of likelihood) that summer this year globally would be the hottest in years.


"Strengthen Your Immune System", Health Functional Foods Report Strong Sales
Summary: G Market, a leading on-line retailer in South Korea, reported that its sales of health functional foods associated with immune system support increased significantly.  Sales of deer antler products increased 135 percent during April 10 to May 10, 2020 compared to last year, while sales of wild ginseng increased 103 percent, omega-3 products increased 106 percent, and propolis products increased 107 during this period.  Home Plus, a leading hypermarket grocery store chain, reported that health food sales increased 48 percent during the last three months compared to the same period last year.  Processors and retailers are making an effort to launch new health food products.  Notable examples include Triple Care Probiotics Yoghurt by Purmeal, Red Ginseng Extract portion packs by KJH Red Ginseng, and Weekly Lab Vitamin Supplements by Seven Eleven.


All Foreign Travelers Required to Take COVID-19 Test upon Arrival in Korea

Summary: The Korean government announced that beginning May 11 all foreign travelers visiting Korea must be tested for COVID-19 within three days of their arival.  Before travelers from the U.S. and European countries were required to take the test upon arrival.  The testing fee will be paid by the government.  The Korean government explained that the change is due to increased infections found among travelers from countries other than the United States and European Union.


 Nonghyup Hosts Drive-thru Market to Support Local Farmers

Summary: Nonghyup (National Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives) organized a drive-thru market in Busan city on May 10 to support local farmers.


100% of Restaurants and Hotels in Korea Saw Sales Decline due to COVID-19, SMEA Survey

Summary: Korea Small and Medium Enterprise Association (SMEA) reported outcomes of its COVID-19 impact survey (April 10-23, 1,234 businesses) on May 10.  According to the survey, 76 percent of small and medium businesses in Korea reported some decline in sales due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  In particular, 100 percent of the restaurants and hotels surveyed reported sales decline. 


Leading IT Companies Extends Telework due to New COVID-19 Cases

Summary: Naver, Cacao, and some other leading information technology companies in South Korea based in and around Seoul announced on May 10 that they will extend telework until further notice.  They were going to switch back to regular office work policies from May 11, but they decided to extend telework due to a new, large scale (over 50 people) outbreak of COVID-19 infections in Seoul the previous week.


Korean Government Provides Up to $800 in COVID-19 Support Funds to All Families from May 11

Summary: The Korean government announced that families may apply for COVID-19 support funds beginning May 11.  The amount of support funds varies depending on the number of family members; from 400,000 won ($320 USD) for a single member family up to 1 million won ($800 USD) for a family with four or more.  The funds are provided in various forms, including debit cards, credit cards, and coupons.


 BEXCO Convention Center Reopens on May 9

Summary: BEXCO, the leading exhibition and convention facility in Busan, reopened on May 9 after being closed for two months due to COVID-19.  A total of 12 large-scale events, including Baby Fair and Golf Show, are scheduled in May at BEXCO.  BEXCO will implement COVID-19 prevention measures during the events.







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