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Food News Clipping

February 1 - 5, 2021


FAS/Seoul Monitoring of Media Reporting on Agricultural Issues

Today's Date: Friday, February 5, 2021

For Coverage: February 1 ~  5, 2021

Health Functional Foods Imported in Large Quantities Last Year: Nutrients Complex, Fructo-oligosaccharide, Oils with EPA/DHA 

 Summary:  Imports of health functional foods have been increasing over the past three years.  Korea imported large amount of nutrient complex products, fructo-oligosaccharide, and fats containing EPA and DHA in 2020.  MFDS (Minister Kang-Rip Kim) announced that imported health functional foods have increased on average 21.4% annually over the past three years, accounting for 33.8% of the Korean health functional food market in 2019. 


Coffee Consumption Trend Analyzed by Starbucks Big Data : Continued Boom in Home Cafés Untact Sales 

Summary:  Starbucks Korea (CEO Song Ho Seop) provided an outlook on this year's coffee trend based on its big data analysis for last year.  Along with the increase in home cafés, the spread of untact consumption, and the trend of customizing personal drinks and developing menus for emotional well-being will continue this year. 


Korean Breweries Plan No Price Increases Despite Higher Liquor Tax This Year 

Summary: Leading Korean breweries, including Hite Jinro, OB, and Lotte Chilsung, are reportedly planning no price increases for their beer even though the government liquor tax (volume based) this year is 0.5 percent higher than last year (834.4 won per liter, about $0.76).  However, marketers remain concerned about potential increases in beer prices later this year as breweries face higher labor and operating costs.  The Korean liquor tax on beer and rice wine are adjusted each year based on the shift in consumer prices in the previous year.  Korean consumer prices increased 0.5 percent in 2020.  


CU Launches High-tech American Whiskey, 'Bespoken' 

Summary: CU, a leading convenience store chain in Korea, reported on February 3 that it started to offer imported American whiskies by Bespoken Spirits.  CU said that Bespoken Spirits is an emerging start-up distiller in the United States that ages the spirits in only five days using a high-tech processing.  Consumers can make on-line orders for in-person store pick-up. 


On-line Delivery Orders Increase Three Times after Introduction of 1 Hour Delivery, GS Supermarket 

Summary: 'GS The Fresh', a grocery supermarket chain under the umbrella of GS Retail, reported that its on-line delivery orders increased 237 percent during the last two weeks in January compared to the same period in the previous month.  GS said that the growth was due to introduction of 1 hour delivery service.  Many of GS supermarkets are located in busy metropolitan areas where consumers demand faster deliveries for grocery products that they purchase on-line.  GS Supermarket has shortened the delivery time from 3 hours to 1 hour by partnering with major quick delivery services such as Yogiyo and Udeal.  GS Supermarket also renovated its stores for more efficient on-line delivery orders. 


Sales of Agricultural Gift Packages for Lunar New Year's Day Up 56% 

Summary: The Korea Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affaris (MAFRA) reported on February 2 that sales of agricultural gifts for Lunar New Year's Day in large-scale retail stores (conventional or on-line) totaled 126 billion won ($114 million USD) during January 4 through 24, 56 percent higher than the same period last year.  Fresh fruit saw the most growth (97 percent), followed by seafood (78 percent) and processed foods (63 percent).  MAFRA said that the increased ceiling for agricultural gifts (up to 200,000 won or $188 USD) temporarily allowed for Lunar New Year's Day this year was a key driver for the sales growth.   
(Note: Korea limits the value of permissible gifts to people in certain positions to limit corruption). 


Consumer Prices of Agricultural Products Up 10% in January, Korea National Statistics Office 

Summary: The Korea National Statistics Office (NSO) reported on February 2 that overall consumer prices in Korea remained stable in January 2021, increasing 0.6 percent from the same month last year.  However, consumer prices of agricultural products increased 10 percent in January.  NSO explained that reduced supply due to an extended monsoon season in 2020 and outbreaks of high-pathogenic avian influenza in poultry farms led to the price increase in agricultural products. 


Whiskey Market Continues to Shrink... Record Low Imports in 2020 since 1999 

Summary: According to the Korea Customs Office, Korean whiskey imports totaled $132 million in 2020, down 13.9 percent from the previous year.  The imports were a record low since 1999.  Almost all whiskey consumed in Korea is imported.  Marketers said that reduced operation of bars and saloons, the leading distribution channel for whiskey, was the main cause of the reduction.   


Restaurant Meal Delivery App Users Order Five Times a Month, BaeMin 

Summary: BaeMin, the leading on-line restaurant meal delivery service in Korea, reported in its annual report that its users ordered 5 times a month on average in 2020.  BaeMin saw the most growth in lunch and dinner time as people increased eating at office or home during the COVID-19 pandemic.   Most consumers opted for on-line payments instead of paying in-person to delivery staff due to COVID-19 concerns.  Take-out orders also increased during the year from 3.5% in January to 12.6% in September.  Many consumers ordered dishes with seasonal ingredients or themes, such as live octopus in March, chicken soup in July, and red bean porridge in December. 


Price of Eggs Continues to Rise Despite Government Efforts 

Summary: According to the Korea Institute for Animal Products Quality Evaluation, the average retail price of fresh eggs in Korea reached 7,350 won ($6.7 USD) per a 30 egg package on January 29, 31 percent higher than a month ago.  The soaring price of eggs is due to continued outbreaks of high-pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in local farms.  To date, a total of 81 poultry farms in Korea had HPAI outbreaks since October 2020, resulting in the depopulation of 12.7 million laying birds.  The Korean government has been making efforts to stabilize the egg price by releasing its reserve stock (1.8 million eggs) and importing 60 metric tons of eggs from the United States during January.  However, egg prices have continued to rise partly due to increased demand for upcoming Lunar New Year's Day (February 11) shopping. 


Increased Home Dining during the COVID-19 Pandemic Generates Stronger Demand for Local Hanwoo Beef 

Summary: The Korea Rural Economic Institute (REI) reported that the average wholesale price of Korean hanwoo beef during 2020 was 19,891 won ($18.1 USD) per kilogram, up 10.7 percent from 2019.  The strong price encouraged breeders to expand their operation and the number of hanwoo cattle in local breeding farms increased 3.9 percent during 2020 to 3.4 million heads in the fourth quarter.  REI explained that consumers generated extra demand for hanwoo beef due to increased home dining during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Hanwoo beef has also benefited from increased consumer spending on gifts as many people opted for premium gift products including hanwoo beef as they were not able to visit family members and friends during important local holiday seasons.  Lotte Department Store reported that hanwoo beef accounted for 34.4 percent of gift products offered for the upcoming Lunar New Year's Day this year, which is a dramatic growth from 25.2 percent last year.




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