FAS/Seoul Monitoring of Media Reporting on Agricultural Issues
Today's Date: Monday, May 3, 2021
For Coverage: April 26 ~ 30, 2021
Credit Card Spending in the First Quarter Up 9% ... Retail &
Wholesale Up 19% but Restaurant & Hotel Down 12%
Summary: According to the Korea Credit Finance Association,
credit card spending in Korea amounted to 224 trillion won (about $200 billion)
in the first quarter of 2021, up 9 percent from the same quarter the previous
year. The retail and wholesale industry saw 19 percent growth in credit
card sales during the quarter. On the other hand, the restaurant and
hotel industry saw a 12 percent decline in credit card sales during the quarter
as consumers reduced trip to restaurants due to COVID-19.
Korean Business Confidence Index Reaches a 10 Year High in April
Summary: The Bank of Korea (BOK) reported on April 29 that its
Business Survey Index (BSI) reached a 10 year high in April 2021 at 88.
BOK explained that the strong rebound in Korean exports and consumer spending
this year led to the improved BSI. The manufacturing sector BSI increased
7 points in April to 96, while the service sector BSI improved 5 points to 82.
Korean Peninsular Gets Hotter … Summer Increased by 20 Days
Summary: The Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) reported
on long-term climate trends in the Korean peninsula on April 28.
According to the report, the average temperature in Korea increased 1.6 degree
Celsius on average over the last 100 years. As a result, spring and
summer increased by 6 and 20 days respectively while fall and winter decreased
by 4 and 22 days.
Mom's Touch Becomes the Largest Burger Restaurant Franchise in
Korea with 1,333 Stores … Value-for-Money Strategy
Summary: Mom's Touch has become the largest burger restaurant
chain in Korea by opening 19 new stores during the first quarter of 2021.
The number of stores under Mom's Touch reached 1,333 at the end of March,
exceeding the industry leader, Lotteria. The number of stores under
Lotteria has not increased during the quarter, staying at 1,330. Mom's
Touch opened its first store in 1998 and achieved outstanding growth over the
years, attracting consumers with a "great value for money"
theme. In particular, Mom's Touch has become the preferred burger brand
among young consumers in their 10s through 20s. Cash register sales of
Mom's Touch amounted to 286 billion won ($260 million USD) in 2020.
Farms Struggle with Limited Labor Resources due to Reduced Foreign Workers
Summary: The number of foreign workers admitted into Korea under
working visas totaled 3,650 people in 2020, down dramatically from the previous
year (37,213 people). The sharp decline was due to COVID-19 travel
restrictions. Korean farms have relied heavily on foreign workers and
many of them continue to struggle this year with limited labor resources.
The Korean government decided on April 2 that it would revise its COVID-19
travel restrictions to allow foreign workers from 5 Asian countries, including
Thailand and Vietnam, where the COVID-19 pandemic was better managed.
Korean farms will still likely face labor shortages for several months to come
until the revised travel restrictions are implemented.
Consumer Consumption Up 1.1% in First Quarter, but Still at 95% of
Summary: The Bank of Korea (BOK) reported on April 28 that Korea's
GDP amounted to 471 trillion won (about $428 billion) in the first quarter of
2021, up 1.6 percent from the previous quarter. Exports (up 1.9 percent)
and consumer consumption (up 1.1 percent) were the main drivers of the GDP
growth. However, BOK said that quarterly consumer consumption had yet to
recover to pre-COVID levels.
Dunkin Donuts Korea Launches 'Duncans' for Environment-friendly
Summary: Dunkin Donuts Korea announced on April 28 that it started
to offer 'Duncan' packaging for beverage orders, both in-store and takeout, as
an alternative option to plastic cups. Dunkin Donuts explained that
'Duncan' is recyclable aluminum can packaging that is filled and sealed in the
store upon order.
Food Price Hikes Continued in the First Quarter 2021
Summary: According to Korea National Statistics Office (NSO) data,
consumer food prices in Korea increased 8.2 percent this year compared to the
same period last year. Consumer food prices remained stable during the
first half in 2020, but increased 6.4 percent in the third
quarter and 7 percent in the fourth quarter.
The price increases were caused by reduced
local harvests due to unfavorable
weather during summer and fall coupled with nationwide outbreaks of avian influenza in the winter months.
CU Reports Strong Sales Growth in Environment-Friendly Product
Offers ... MZ Generations Pays Attention to ESG Themes
Summary: CU, a leading convenience store franchise in South Korea
with over 15,000 stores nationwide, reported that sales
of its new environment-friendly product offers were 22 to 80 percent higher in March 2021 compared to the same
month last year. For example, Heyroo
brand bottled water without labels generated 80 percent sales growth, the highest in the category.
CU explained that MZ generations (consumers in their 20's or younger)
reacted strongly to ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) themes and led the
strong sales growth of related products in CU stores.
Milk Consumption Continues to Decline ... 26.3 KG per Person in 2020
Summary: According to the Korea Diary Industry Association (KDIA),
per-capita fluid milk consumption in Korea amounted to 26.3 kilogram in 2020, the lowest level in 21
years. Reduced milk consumption resulted in a four-year high inventory of
milk powder in local dairy processors, 12,109 metric tons as of February
2021. KDIA explained that fluid milk consumption in Korea continues to
decline due to reduced births and elevated competition from other beverage options.
In addition, the closing
of school milk programs during
the COVID-19 pandemic further reduced demand for fluid milk in the market.