Market Information   >   Food News Clipping

Food News Clipping

May 29 - June 9, 2020


FAS/Seoul Monitoring of Media Reporting on Agricultural Issues

Today's Date: Tuesday, June 9, 2020

For Coverage: May 29 ~ June 9, 2020

Korea Stock Exchange Market Recovers to Pre-COVID-19 Level

Summary: Korea Stock Exchange Market (KSEM) reported that its KOSPI index reached 2,184.29 at the end of June 8, recovering to pre-COVID-19 levels (the KOSPI was 2,162.84 on February 21).  The index fell as low as 1,457.64 on March 19 during the COVID-19 outbreak.  KSEM said that reduced COVID-19 infections and positive economic outlook among investors led to the quick stock market recovery.


Lotte Mart Launches 'Environment-Friendly Store' Initiative … Targets to Reduce Plastic Disposables 50 Percent by 2025

Summary: Lotte Mart, a leading hypermarket grocery store chain in South Korea, launched its 'Environment-friendly Store Project' on June 8.  Lotte Mart will introduce new measures with the goal of reducing plastic-vinyl disposables 50 percent by 2025.  A key approach will be working with suppliers and switching to products that use less plastic-vinyl.  Lotte Mart will also target to reduce food waste generated by its stores by 30 percent.  Solar panels will also be introduced to its stores to increase energy efficiency.


MAFRA to Spend $83 Million to Help Local Farms Recover from April Frost Damage

Summary: Korea Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affars (MAFRA) will deploy over 100 billion won ($83 million USD) in frost damage relief funds.  Some 48,000 hectares of local farm land reportedly had frost damage in April.  Farms will receive up to 1.19 million won ($992 USD) for a family farm with four or more people and frost damage on 50 percent or more of its farm land.  In addition, MAFRA will provide 1.99 million won ($1,658 USD) per hectare for fruit farms or 0.59 million won ($492 USD) per hectare for grain farms to pay for application of agricultural chemicals on the damaged land.  


Dining Prices Decline in April during COVID-19 Outbreak

Summary: Four of the Korea Consumer Agencies (KCA) eight key restaurant meal price indexes fell in April compared to pre-COVID-19 prices in January.  Nengmyon (cold noodle) saw the largest decline (-1.3 percent), followed by bibimbob (mixed rice, -0.9 percent), jajangmyon (black noodle, 0.8 percent) and samgyupsal (roasted pork belly, -0.5 percent).  On the other hand, gimbob (rice roll) and calguksu (wheat noodle) prices went up by 1.6 percent and 2.7 percent respectively.  Samgyetang (chicken soup) and Kimchi stew prices remained unchanged.  KCA said that restaurant meal prices would likely rebound in May statistics as the government COVID-19 relief funds increased consumer traffic in the restaurant sector.


Shopper Visits to Coupang and Market Curley Rebound after Quick Dipping Due to COVID-19 Infections in Distribution Centers

Summary: Coupang, the leading on-line retailer in South Korea, saw its shopping visits decline one percent during the week of May 25.  During that week, 9.4 million shoppers visited Coupang.  The total amount of time shoppers spent on Coupang also declined by 6 percent to 0.54 million hours.  The decline was due to COVID-19 infections on May 27 in two of Coupang's distribution centers servicing the Seoul metropolitan area.  The number of daily shopper visits on Coupang rebounded on May 31.  Market Curley, another major on-line retailer, also saw shopper visits and shopping time decline by 13 percent and 24 percent respectively the week of May 25 due to COVID-19 infections in distribution warehouses.  Market Curley's daily shopper visits also rebounded on May 31.  Market Curley's business decline was much larger as Market Curley's portfolio is largely food and agricultural products.  SSG.COM, another leading on-line grocery retailer, did not have COVID-19 infections and saw its morning deliveries grow 30 percent on May 29 compared to the previous week.


Hypermarket Stores Stage Aggressive Hanwoo Beef Promotions to Attract Consumers

Summary: EMART, the leading hypermarket grocery store chain in South Korea, started an in-store promotion on local Hanwoo beef and imported Australian 'Darling Down' beef on June 4.  The promotion, which will last until June 10, offers an up to 40 percent discount on the beef.  Lotte Mart, another major hypermarket chain, also staged a Hanwoo beef promotion on June 4-7 with aggressive price discounts.  The Korean government COVID-19 relief funds provided to families resulted in a decline in consumer traffic to hypermarket stores, as the funds can only be spent at small, independent grocery stores.  The retail market price of Hanwoo beef reached a record high this year due to reduced supply.


Haitai Confectionery Launches Low Sodium Potato Chips … 40% Less than Regular Chips

Summary: Haitai Confectionery Co., a leading snack manufacturer in South Korea, launched a new potato chip brand, Saeng-Saeng-Gamja Chip, on June 3.  Haitai said the new chips contain only 0.5 grams of sodium, about 40 percent less than regular chips, but taste salty enough as they incorporate additional salty ingredients processed from seaweed.  Consumers are concerned about the high amount of sodium in processed snacks.  As a result, processors are making an effort to reduce sodium in their products.


Consumer Prices Down -0.3% in May

Summary: The Korea National Statistics Office (NSO) reported that consumer prices declined by 0.3 percent in May from the same month last year.  NSO said weak consumer spending during the COVID-19 outbreak led to the decline in consumer prices.  Petroleum-based product prices declined the most (18.7 percent).  Entertainment and culture prices declined 1.6 percent and education prices declined 2.8 percent.  On the other hand, agricultural product prices increased by 3.1 percent as COVID-19 relief funds boosted grocery shopping.


Pork Price Increased Twice that of Beef

Summary:  Consumer prices decreased last month as COVID-19 hurt the economy and international oil prices fell.  In contrast, the price of livestock products increased sharply.  The price increase was attributed to more people cooking at home and consumers buying meat using Emergency Disaster Subsidies.  Pork prices in May 2020 were 12.2 percent higher than in May 2019, while beef prices were up by 6.6. percent.


Korean Per Capita Income was $32,115 in 2019 – Best Expectation for 2020 is $30,000

Summary:  Korea’s per capita national income declined to $32,000 in 2019, the second largest decrease since the financial crisis in 2009.  The drop was attributed to slowed nominal gross domestic product (GDP) growth and the depreciation of the Korean won.  Per capita income is forecast to drop below $30,000 in 2020 due to the global economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Korean Per-Capita GNI Declines to $32,115 in 2019 … Will Likely to Decline Further in 2020 due to COVID-19 and Strong US Dollar

Summary: Bank of Korea (BOK) reported on June 2 that per-capita Gross National Income (GNI) in Korea was $32,115 in 2019, down 4.3 percent from the previous year.  The BOK said the decline was due to the strong U.S. dollar.  The value of the U.S. dollar rose by 5.9 percent on average in 2019 to 1,1605.7 won per $1 (up from 1,100 won in 2018).  The BOK said that Korea’s GNI will likely decline further in 2020 due to COVID-19 and a stronger U.S. dollar.


Environment-friendly Farms Suffer as School Lunch Program Discontinues Due to COVID-19

Summary: Korea's school lunch program has been a major consumer of local environment-friendly agricultural products.  According to Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) data, local environment-friendly farms produced 1.3 trillion won ($1.2 billion) of agricultural products in 2018.  39 percent of the products were consumed in school lunch programs.  Schools were closed during the COVID-19 outbreak this year so the farms were not able to sell the products.  Many farms are reportedly facing serious financial problems as a result.


Guam to Receive Korean Travelers from July 1 ... Plans to Lift 'Mandatory 2 Week Quarantine' Requirement

Summary: Guam government announced on May 29 that it will allow foreign travelers from 3 countries, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, to visit Guam from July 1.  Travelers from the 3 countries will be exempted from the mandatory 2 week quarantine isolation and COVID-19 testing requirements.


Ministry of Agriculture to Stage 'Organic Day' Public Promotions on June 2

Summary: MAFRA will stage a public promotions on June 2, which is designated as 'Organic Day'.  The main program will be an 'organic charity donation' on behalf of low income families.  Local organic farms will donate organic agricultural products to low income families through the program.  Consumers who purchase local environment-friendly agricultural products in affiliated on-line shops will get 10 percent of their purchase amount donated to the families.  The organic donation promotion will last until June 30.


EMART24 Convenience Store Expands Wine Offers

Summary: EMART24, a major convenience store chain in South Korea, announced on May 31 that it expanded its wine offers to cope with increased consumer demand.  EMART24 reported that products newly launched include great value low price wines as well as premium wines such as Vega Sicilia Unico which sells for 700,000 won a bottle ($560 USD).  Consumers need to access 'EMART24 Winepoint' smart phone app to place orders for the premium bottles.


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Agricultural Trade Office, U.S. Embassy - Seoul
Tel: 82-2-6951-6848 Fax: 82-2-720-7921