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Food News Clipping

March 14 - 19, 2021


FAS/Seoul Monitoring of Media Reporting on Agricultural Issues

Today's Date: Friday, March 19, 2021

For Coverage: March 14 ~  19, 2021


Law Makers Propose 'Sugar Tax' 
Summary: A bill proposing a 'sugar tax' was submitted in the Korea National Assembly recently.  The bill to revise 'National Health Promotion Act' asks for a financial penalty on beverage products that contain excessive amount of sugars.  Products containing 200 milligrams of sugar or higher per liter would be charged 280 won ($0.25 USD) of sugar tax per liter if the bill is implemented.  For example, regular Coca-cola contains 108 grams of sugars per 1 liter and will be charged 11,000 won ($10 USD) of sugar tax per liter.  The food industry is reportedly against the bill as it continues a voluntary effort to reduce sugars in processed foods.  Also, the industry is worried that the sugar tax would result in increases in product prices. 

Products with Less Salt Report Strong Sales Growth, GMARKET 
Summary: GMARKET, a leading on-line shopping platform in Korea, reported that processed foods containing less salt saw strong sales growth this year.  For example, low salt prepared foods and snacks saw 380 percent and 358 percent growth through March 9 compared to the same period last year.  Low salt side dishes and sausages saw 44 percent and 68 percent growth.  Food processors are also trying to launch more low salt products to capitalize on the increased consumer attention to low salt diets. 


Sugarfina, Boutique U.S. Candy Shop, Opens its First Store in Korea 

Summary: Sugarfina, a boutique candy shop based out of California, opened its first store in Korea on March 16.  The store, located in the Galleria Department Store Gangnam Seoul branch, offers candies with exotic ingredients such as champagne and whiskey. 


 Bottled Water from Jeju Island Enters into the U.S. Market Over 400 MT This Year 

Summary: Jeju Development Corporation (JDC) under the Jeju Provincial Government announced on March 16 that its first 140 metric ton shipment of 'Samdasoo' bottled water was loaded into a container vessel on March 15. JDC said that the water was going to be offered in restaurants and retail shops in California. JDC received FSVP certification under the FSMA program required by the U.S. government to access the U.S. market. JDC expects that its export shipments to the U.S. this year will amount to over 400 metric tons. 


McDonald's Korea Saw 7% Growth in Cash-Register Sales in 2020 Despite the COVID-19 Pandemic 

Summary: Anthony Martinez, the president of McDonald's Korea, announced on March 16 that the franchise generated 980 billion won in cash-register sales in 2020, up 7 percent from the previous year. He said that increased launchings of delivery menus and drive-thru stores during the year helped McDonalds increase sales despite the COVID-19 pandemic. 


"Fishery Subsidy Program Needs Updates in Preparation for CPTTP Negotiations", Korean Prime Minister 

Summary: NK Hong, the Korean prime minister, said in a government economic cabinet meeting on March 15 that the government needs to work on the fishery industry subsidy program in preparation for upcoming CPTPP free trade negotiations. He explained that sustainability has become a key issue in international trade and the local subsidy program should be revised to make sure that the policy does not conflict with the international agenda against over-fishing. 


Harmonized Labeling Standards for Domestic and Imported Salt Products 

Summary:Imported salt product labels had to indicate the 'year, month and day' whiledomestic products have indicated only production year and month. However, from March 15, 2021, imported salt products can be labeled the same way as domestic salt. The Ministry ofMaritime Affairs and Fisheries (MOMAF) promulgated the 'Partial Amendment of the Enforcement Rules of the Salt Industry Promotion Act' on the 15th in order to harmonize labeling standards for imported and domestic salt.    


Leading Korean Retailers to Take Over eBay Korea ... Coupang's Successful Listing on NYSE Pushes Industry Restructuring 

Summary: EMART, Lotte Shopping, and other leading Korean retail companies are reportedly planning to submit offers to take over eBay Korea, a leading on-line shopping platform in the market owned by eBay USA. The on-line shopping segment continues to expand rapidly in Korea. There is move towards restructuring in the industry as competition among major platforms increases. In particular, the successful entry of Coupang, the leading on-line shopping platform in Korea, into the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on March 11 has increased industry attention to acquisition and mergeropportunities. Coupang was traded at $49.25 per share in NYSE on March 11, up 40.7 percent from the initial public offer. Coupang's market capitalization soared to over $80 billion as a result. Other major Korean on-line shopping platforms, including Market Kurly, are reportedly planning public listings as well. 


MAFRA to Purchase 60,000 MT of Beans from Local Farms This Year ... Part of Its Policy Initiative to Promote Non-rice Production 

Summary: The Korea Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) announced on March 14 that it would purchase some 60,000 metric tons of beans from local farms as part of its policy initiative to promote non-rice production in local farms. MAFRA plans to purchase 60,000 metric tons of soy bean, 500 metric tons of red beans, and 50 metric tons of mung beans. Registration for the program will start on March 22. Farmers are required to sign an MOU with MAFRA as part of the purchasing program. 


Long Line for a Strawberry Cake This is How Consumers Cope with COVID Stress 

Summary: Despite the decrease of dine-in eating due to COVID-19, demands for dessert is strong.  Early in the morning on a weekday, there was a line of around 40 people to get strawberry cakes at Lotte World Mall, Jamsil, Seoul.  Consumers said that they look for specialty desserts to fight COVID-19 depression and manage stress. 



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