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Food News Clipping

September 21 - October 1, 2021


FAS/Seoul Monitoring of Media Reporting on Agricultural Issues

Today's Date: Friday, October 1, 2021

For Coverage: September 21 ~  October 1, 2021


Twosome Place Reports Outstanding Success of Sweet Potato Cakes … MZ Consumers Want Natural, Healthy Sweetness

Summary: Twosome Place Korea (TPK) reported on October 1 that the sweet potato cakes it launched four weeks ago generated 170,000 unit sales so far (1 unit sold every 7 minutes).  TPK said that the cakes specifically targeted young consumers by offering natural, healthy sweetness of sweet potatoes.  TPK added that over 60,000 young consumers reacted to a social media promotion it deployed upon launching the cakes.


Lotte Shopping to Revive Warehouse Discount Store Business

Summary: Lotte Shopping, a leading retail company in South Korea, reported on September 29 that it will revise its restructuring plan and resume investment in its warehouse discount store business, Vic Market division.  Under the new plan, Lotte Shopping will stop closing existing Vic Market stores (2) while opening new stores.  The number of Vic Market stores will reach 20 by 2023.  The decision is aimed at meeting increased consumer demand for value shopping.  Leading players in the segment, COSTCO and Traders, have seen solid growth in sales this year despite the COVID-19 pandemic as in-person shopper traffic to warehouse discount stores remained strong.


There are No ‘Natural’ Marks on Cheese Anymore

Summary: Recently, the “natural” mark is deleted from cheese labels to prevent consumer misunderstanding.  The reason for this change is to avoid consumers from mistakenly viewing natural cheese as a natural food without food additives.  The change is meant to address differences in export classification standards.  Products made of fluid milk are classified as cheese, and products that are heated, completely melted, and remolded are classified as processed cheese.


CJ CheilJedang Selects 10 Companies to Foster Food-Tech Startups

Summary: CJ has selected 10 companies to participate in the startup development program called “Seed. CJ CheilJedang will provide full-fledged support and foster startups in the food technology sector.  Each of the selected companies will receive up to 300 million won in commercialization subsidies for 10 months.  According to CJ, they have high expectations for the potential of the selected companies and will support them to leap into the next generation of unicorn companies.


$1,000 per 1 Kg ... Wild Pine Mushroom Fetches Season High Auction Price
Summary: Yangyang County Forest Association (YCFA) reported that the price of a wild pine mushroom it auctioned off on September 27 hit the season high, 1.1 million won ($1,000 USD) per kilogram (top-grade).  The association said that the high price was due to reduced supply of top-grade mushrooms during the week.  The amount of top-grade mushrooms offered in the auction on September 27 was only 1.6 kilograms.  The record price of wild pine mushrooms sold in the YCFA auction was 1.4 million won in 2009.


Grapes, Jujube, Insects, and Others are Selected as a Specialized Crops in Chungbuk

Summary: The Rural Development Administration and Chungcheong Buk-do Agricultural Technology Institute selected grapes, jujube, garlic, watermelon, corn, apples, peaches and insects as specialized crops in Chungcheong Buk-do.  In the future, various types of support will be extended to these eight products, including help entering export markets.  The Rural Development Administration said it will double the annual average income growth rate of production for farmers by increasing market size and strengthening export competitiveness.  Their stated goal is to lead the development of Chung Buk agriculture and promote balanced national development.


Farmers Oppose to New Military Procurement System as It will Favor Lower Priced Imported Meat

Summary: The Korea Hanwoo Beef Association (KHBA) reported on September 24 that the revised procurement system that the Korea Ministry of Defense (KMD) is testing currently would restrict local livestock products from accessing the military supply chain as the new system runs on a lowest price bid basis and will favor lower priced imported meat.  KHBA said that the first batch of pilot bids that KMD announced recently under the procurement plan for the second half this year invited imported meat offers mostly due to the lowest price bid standard.  The pilot bids invited U.S., Australian, and New Zealand origin offers only for beef, and Spanish, U.S., and French origin offers for pork.  KHBA said that local meat supplied all meat consumed by the Korean military in the past.  The Ministry of Defense plans to finalize the new procurement system by 2023.  But the KHBA and local farmers plan to stage protests against the plan.


The First Ice Cream Marked with Functional Foods has been Released

Summary: For the first time in Korea, an ice cream product with “functionality” has been released.  The general food functional labeling system has been implemented since the end of last year.  If the functional labeling standards are met and scientific evidence is sufficient, functionality can be marked on general foods.  Lotte confectionary launched “Seollaeim Probiotics” on September 27.


Seoul Dairy to Raise Milk Price 5.4% in October

Summary: Seoul Dairy Cooperative (SDC), the leading milk processor in South Korea, announced on September 23 that it will increase its milk price 5.4 percent starting October 1.  SDC said that the price increase is due to the increased price of raw milk and operation costs.  Marketers commented that other daily processors will follow and increase milk prices soon, which will have a domino effect in the food market and lead to price increases in processed products such as bakery products and coffee.


'Mega Coffee' Opens 1,500th Store ... Explosive Growth Based on Value Price Strategy

Summary: Mega Coffee, a cafe franchise in South Korea established in 2015, reported on September 23 that the number of stores under the franchise exceeded 1,500 on September 23.  As a result, Mega Coffee became the third largest cafe franchise in the market, following Ediya (3,457 stores) and Starbucks (1,574 stores).   Mega Coffee said that the key driver of the fast growth was its 'top value' strategy.  For example, Mega Coffee offers a large Americano for 2,000 won ($1.7 USD), which is 40 percent cheaper than competitors.


CJ Cheiljedang’s Brand Bibigo will be Engraved on the Uniform of the NBA’s Team

Summary: CJ CeilJedang’s brand Bibigo, which has become a global food brand, will be engraved on the uniform of the NBA’s best team.  CJ CheilJedang has signed a global marketing partnership with the LA Lakers.  CheilJedang is the first global partner of the Lakers to engage in various marketing activities as well as a uniform logo.  The partnership began with the proposal from the Lakers. Through this opportunity, CJ plans to foster Bibigo as a global mega-brand.


Coffee and Beverage Market Grew 5.9% ... Convenience Store Pet Bottles and Pouch Coffee are Popular

Summary: Large sized coffee products that are easy to store are gaining popularity as the trend of staying at home continues.  The coffee and beverage market grew 5.6% this year; large PET bottle coffee is particularly popular.  Unlike canned products, PET bottle coffee has a lid that makes it easy to store after opening.  Reflecting this trend, franchise coffee shops are also launching large-capacity PET bottle coffee products.


The Online Food Market has Grown by 50% Because of COVID-19 and is Centered on Distribution

Summary: Since COVID-19, the distribution industry has shifted to focus on the online market.  Competition has become more fierce this year.  Before the Pandemic, the online penetration rate for food was lower than for other products.  This is because food needs a cold chain infrastructure due to its short inventory period.  However, as demand increases and the market grows, competition among companies that provide online food has intensified and large-scale investments are also continuing.  Experts say it is necessary to establish an efficient delivery infrastructure by operating both online and in-person stores at the same time.


Starbucks has Launched their Own Oat Milk as Another Milk Option

Summary: Starbucks Coffee Korea will introduce “oat milk” as another option for their milk.  Starbuck’s oat milk is developed to create soft bubbles, especially when steamed, with fewer calories than regular milk and a rich oat flavor.  According to Starbucks, they hope this option will spread the culture of consuming drinks that care about the environment and health.  They will continue to develop various plant-based drinks considering customer tastes and trends.


Animal Welfare Labeled Foods Becoming Popular

Summary: As the demand for safe food has increased since COVID-19, healthy and “animal welfare” labeled foods are gaining popularity.  Sales of free range eggs increased 128% from the previous year.  Animal welfare labeled products are proving popular even if the price is slightly higher than conventional products. 


“Jackson Grapefruit” Exclusively Imported by E-Mart

Summary: E-Mart exclusively imported the "Jackson Grapefruit."  The Jackson is a new variety with high sugar and a less bitter taste from South Africa.  It has the advantage of easy peeling by hand because its skin is thinner and lighter than regular grapefruit.  With the increase in single households and pursuit of convenience, fruits that are easy to peel or without skin like Shine Muscat grapes are gaining popularity.  Jackson Grapefruit successfully launched in the market with the easy-peel trend and high sugar content.  According to E-Mart, they will continue to develop unique products to provide customers with a new taste experience.


Jeju Mandarin Orange Growers to Supply Extra Crops by Lowering Quality Standards as Field Crop Production will Likely Decline 3.5% This Year

Summary: The Jeju provincial government and Jeju Mandarine Orange Growers Association agreed on September 14 to lower the official crop quality standards and allow small size fruits over 45 milimeters diameter and 10 brix or higher sugar content for commercial sales.  In the past, small size fruits were not allowed for commercial sales regardless of the sugar content.  The decision was to supply extra fruits to the market as production of field crop this year was forecast to decline 3.5 percent from last year to 497,000 metric tons.  The field crop should be harvested and tested for sugar content by November 15.  (Post comments: Jeju island also grows mandarin oranges in green houses which are harvested from late April.  Green house crop production in 2021 amounted to 26,000 metric tons.)


Korean Grape Production to Expand 11% by 2030, KREI

Summary: The Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI) reported that grape production in the country will likely increase 11 percent to 165,000 metric tons by 2030, mainly due to strong consumer demand for 'Shine Muscat' and other new varieties.  Per capita consumption of grapes in Korea is expected to increase from 4.0 kilogram this year to 4.4 kilogram by 2030.  The Korean government is making an effort to repeat the outstanding success of 'Shine Muscat' by introducing new varieties.  According to the Korea Rural Development Agency (RDA), 'Stella' (seedless, 18.5 brix, 0.44% acid content) and 'Agde' (19.9 brix, 0.91% acid content, 600mg/liter antocyanin content) are being test marketed this year for table grapes and wine making respectively.



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