Market Information   >   Food News Clipping

Food News Clipping

January 1 - 8, 2021


FAS/Seoul Monitoring of Media Reporting on Agricultural Issues

Today's Date: Friday, January 8, 2021

For Coverage: January 1 ~  8, 2021


Credit Card Spending in Restaurants Plunges 50% in December due to Stronger Social Distancing

Summary: According to the Korea Credit Data, credit card spending in small businesses in Korea declined 44 percent in December 2020 compared to the same month in the previous year as a result of stronger social distancing restrictions due to COVID-19 outbreaks.  Restaurants were one of the industries that saw the most decline in credit card spending.


Sales of Soju Surge in Convenience Stores due to Home Drinking ... Distillers are Busy Processing Extra Bottles

Summary: Some convenience stores are experiencing shortages of soju (the leading local distilled spirits). The surging demand is due to increased home drinking under stronger social distancing implemented by the government since December.  According to Seven Eleven Korea, sales of soju increased 56 percent in December 2020 compared to the same month last year.  Leading distillers, including Hite-Jinro, are making efforts to expand production. 


Market Kurly Saw 119% Growth in Beef Sales in 2020 ... Premium Cuts Grew 454%

Summary: Market Kurly, a leading on-line grocery shopping platform in South Korea, reported that its beef sales amounted to 900 metric tons (equivalent to 150,000 cattle) in 2020, up 119 percent from the previous year.  Market Kuley said that premium cuts saw the most growth, 454 percent, during the period as families opted for higher quality cuts during holidays and year-end season as they were not able to visit restaurants due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions.


57% of Foreigners are Aware of Hansik (Korean Cuisine)

Summary: The Korea Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) reported outcomes of foreign consumer surveys carried out in 16 cities around the world in August 2020.  The survey found that 57 percent of the foreign consumers were aware of 'Hansik' (Korean cuisine).  MAFRA said that the awareness level continued to increase since it started the annual survey in 2018.  81 percent of foreign consumers said that they liked eating Hansik.  The leading image that the foreign consumers had on Hansik were "spicy", followed by "exotic", "flavorful", "easy to approach", and "diverse".  Korean fried chicken, kimchi, and gimbob (rice rolls) were the top Hansik that foreign consumers liked the most.


Korean Government Raises Liquor Tax on Beer and Rice Wine by 0.5 Percent for 2021

Summary: The Korean government announced on January 6 that the local liquor tax on beer and rice wine will increase by 0.5 percent in 2021.  As a result, the liquor tax on beer and rice wine (which are levied on a volume basis) will become 834.4 won ($0.76) and 41.9 won ($0.38) per liter respectively.  The new tax will be implemented from March 1, 2021 through February 28, 2022.  The government explained that the volume based liquor tax on beer and rice wine is revised each year based on the shift in consumer prices during the previous year.  The revised liquor tax on beer and rice wine will be announced in February.


African Swine Fever Virus Spreads Further South
Summary: The African Swine Fever (ASF) Outbreak Management Center under the Korean government reported on January 5 that it detected ASF in a wild hog carcass found in Youngwol county, Gangwon province on December 28.  The center added that it also confirmed ASF in another 6 wild hog carcasses found in a nearby location on January 1.  As a result, the number of areas (cities and counties) where ASF outbreaks have been confirmed in Korea increased to 11.  The new outbreak in Youngwol county raises serious concern in the government as the location is 80 kilometers south from previous outbreaks.  The center has ordered emergency quarantine measures in and around the country, including a standstill order for local swine farms and daily fumigation. 


Monthly On-line Shopping Exceeds 15 Trillion Won in November, 2020
Summary: The Korea National Statistics Office (NSO) reported that the on-line retail industry generated 15.1 trillion won ($13.6 billion USD) in sales in November 2020, up 17.2 percent from the same month last year.  On-line shopping for restaurant meal deliveries (up 60.6 percent) and retail food and beverages (up 47.1 percent) led the growth in sales.  On-line shopping accounted for 29.2 percent of overall retail industry sales in November.  NSO explained that stronger social distancing measures during the COVID-19 outbreaks boosted on-line purchases for home dining.

Engel's Index Reaches the Highest in 20 Years, Bank of Korea
Summary: The Bank of Korea (BOK) reported on January 6 that the Engel's index in Korea reached 12.8 percent in 2020 through the third quarter, up 1.4 percent points from the same period in the previous year.  It was also the highest level since 2000.  Consumer spending on food and beverages during the period amounted to 81.8 trillion won ($74.4 billion USD), accounting for 12.8 percent of overall consumption spending.  The spending on food and beverages increased 9.8 percent during the period compared to the same period last year.  In contrast, overall consumption spending declined by 2.9 percent.


Retailers Forecast Stronger Sales of Premium Gift Sets during Upcoming Lunar New Year's Day Shopping Season

Summary: Leading Korean retailers are reportedly beefing up their premium gift set offers targeting the upcoming Lunar New Year's Day shopping season.  Retailers forecast that consumers will opt for more expensive gift products such as local hanwoo beef and shine muscat grapes as they will not be able to make in-person visits to their family members and friends during the holiday.


Korea Exported a Record $7.57 Billion in Agricultural and Food Products in 2020

Summary: Korean exports of agricultural and food products in 2020 increased by 7.7% from the previous year to $7.57 billion, the highest ever.  Exports of kimchi, red pepper paste, grapes, and Yooja citron tea have increased by more than 30% from the previous year.  MAFRA reported that, despite many difficulties due to COVID-19 last year, both fresh agricultural products and processed foods recorded all-time high exports and growth rates in the last 5 years.


Strawberries Become the Number One Fresh Fruit for Winter

Summary: EMART, the leading hypermarket grocery retailer in South Korea, reported that strawberries accounted for 30 percent of its fresh fruit sales in December, 2020.  The former top seller, mandarin oranges, became the second best seller with a 14 percent share.  EMART explained that strawberries gained consumer preference based on launching of new, premium quality varieties.  Increased home baking during the COVID-19 outbreaks also generated additional demand for strawberries.


Prices of Poultry Products on a Rise due to Avian Influenza Outbreaks

Summary: According to the Korea Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA), the price of chicken meat, duck meat, and eggs in the market increased 6.4 percent, 70.7 percent, and 9.5 percent respectively in December 2020 compared to the same month a year ago.  Over 12 million chicken and ducks in local farms were depopulated in December due to continued outbreaks of avian influenza (AI).  MAFRA says that the overall poultry supply in the market remains stable despite the AI outbreak.  However, marketers are concerned about bigger impacts down the road if the AI outbreaks continue through the spring.


Four Additional High-Pathogenic Avian Influenza Outbreaks Confirmed on January 1, Total 41 Outbreaks So Far This Winter

Summary: The Avian Influenza Management Center under the Korean government reported on January 1 that four additional poultry farms in the country tested positive for high-pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).  As a result, the number of local poultry farms that had HPAI outbreaks this winter increased to 41.



View List >

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