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Food News Clipping

October 12 - 19, 2020


FAS/Seoul Monitoring of Media Reporting on Agricultural Issues

Today's Date: Monday,  October 19, 2020

For Coverage: October 12 ~  19, 2020

ROKG Plans to Strengthen Import Inspections on Japanese Agricultural Products as Japan will Likely Release Radiation Contaminated Water from Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants into Sea

Summary: The South Korean government is reportedly developing strengthened safety inspection measures on imported Japanese agricultural products as Japanese government will likely release radiation contaminated water (1.1 million metric tons accumulated as of October 2020) from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea.  The retain tanks established in the plant can hold 1.3 million metric tons maximum.


Leading Korean Retailers Forecast Mixed 3Q Outcomes … EMART Up, Lotte and Hyundai Down

Summary: EMART, a leading retail company in South Korea, is forecast to generate 125 billion won (109 million USD) in operating profits during the third quarter this year, up 7 percent from the same period last year.  The outstanding outcome is largely based on increased sales in both hypermarket and on-line businesses.  On the other hand, Lotte Shopping and Hyundai Department Store are forecast to generate 78 billion won and 36 billion won in operating profits during the third quarter, down 13 percent and 41 percent respectively.  Lotte and Hyundai rely heavily on department store business which has yet to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.


Home Plus Signs Partnership with E&J Gallo to Expand U.S. Wine Offers

Summary: Home Plus, a leading hypermarket grocery store chain in Korea, reported that it signed a business partnership with E&J Gallo, the largest U.S. wine company, on September 15.  Home Plus has been carrying various Gallo wines, including Copper Bridge, Living Stone, Ghost Pine, and Canyon Road.  Home Plus explained that the partnership will allow Home Plus to offer wider variety of U.S. wines at more attractive prices to Korean consumers. 


81% of Koreans Feel Worried about Their Life, Samsung Life Survey 

Summary: Samsung Life, the leading insurance company in South Korea, reported on October 14 that the number of Koreans who feel worried about their life increased sharply this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  According to a recent survey by Samsung Life (May 2020 / 1,000 people in their 40-70's), 81.2 percent of respondents said that they were 'somewhat worried' (63.1 percent) or 'always worried' (18.1 percent) about their life.  People in their 40's had the highest level of life concerns (86.5 percent) whereas people in their 60's or older had more positive life perspectives.  Women had higher ratio of 'always worried' (23.6 percent) than men (14.6 percent).


On-line Becomes the Main Shopping Tool for 19.1% of Grocery Food Shoppers, Open Survey  

Summary: Open Survey, a market research firm, reported on October 15 the outcome of its recent consumer survey (September 2020 / 1,300 grocery food shoppers in their 20-50's).  According to the survey 19.1 percent of consumers purchase grocery foods mainly on-line, up 7.6 percentage points from last year.  On the other hand, the share of consumers who mainly shop in conventional hypermarket stores declined to 27.8 percent, down 6.1 percentage points.  The leading consumer group for on-line grocery shopping was women in their 30's who live alone and 3 member families.  On the other hand, hypermarket shoppers were evenly distributed among different age groups and family sizes.  Hypermarket shoppers had much bigger per-shopping purchases (82,400 won / $71.6 USD) than on-line shoppers (47,400 won / $41.2 USD).


EMART and Paju City to Support Ginseng Farmers as Local Consumer Events are Canceled 

Summary: Annual ginseng festivals in October that marketed a significant volume of new crops in the past will not happen this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  EMART recently launched a ginseng sales event that will last until the end of November in an effort to support the farmers.  Paju City, a major growing area of ginseng, came up with a drive-thru ginseng market for its farmers in Imjingang Station parking lot where consumers can safely purchase new crop ginseng.  


Gochujang, Korean Hot Pepper Sauce, Gains CODEX Food Code Registration 

Summary: The Korea Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) reported on October 13 that Gochujang (Korean hot pepper sauce) gained an official registration in the CODEX Food Code under the Joint FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission.  As a result, Gochujan will be recognized internationally and officially as a unique product originating from Korea.  Kimchi gained CODEX registration in 2001 and Ginseng gained registration in 2015.  


ROKG to Double Local Wheat Planting in 2021 for Food Security 

Summary: The Korea Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) announced its 'grain seed supply plan for 2021' on October 14.  In the plan, MAFRA said that it would increase its wheat seed supply to 1,334 metric tons in 2021, up 2.2 times from 2020.  MAFRA said that the decision was to secure additional local supply of key grains.


ROKG Lowers COVID-19 Social Distancing Restrictions to Level 1 … Dancing Clubs and Buffet Restaurants Reopen

Summary: The Korean government lowered its mandatory COVID-19 social distancing measures to Level 1 on October 12.  As a result, 10 types of businesses that were designated as "high risk sources" and kept closed under Level 2, including dancing clubs, buffet restaurants, salons, and karaoke bars, were allowed to reopen (with some distancing restrictions such as limiting the number of consumers allowed in the store to one consumer per every 4 sq. meter space). 


ROKG Reports New Outbreaks of African Swine Fever (ASF) in 12 Months

Summary: The Korean government reported on October 11 that two swine farms in Hawcheon county tested positive for African Swine Fever (ASF).  The two farms were located in the same village, 2 kilometers apart.  All animals in the farms were depopulated to prevent further spread.  In addition, all swine industry activities in Gangwon province and Gyeonggi province were prohibited for 24 hours until October 12. The Korean government started inspections in 373 swine farms in nearby 14 counties to trace any additional infections.


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