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Food News Clipping

October 1 - 8, 2021


FAS/Seoul Monitoring of Media Reporting on Agricultural Issues

Today's Date: Tuesday, October 12, 2021

For Coverage: October 1 ~   8, 2021

Imports of UHT Milk Surge as Local Milk Prices Rise 

Summary: According to the Korea Customs Office data, the volume of UHT (Ultra High Temperature sterilized) milk imported this year (through August) totaled 14,275 metric tons, exceeding the annual import volume last year.  The surge in UHT milk imports is due to the rise in local milk prices.  The leading local milk brand, Seoul Dairy, raised its milk price 2.5 percent on October 1.  Local milk, which is mostly pasteurized at a lower temperature and distributed chilled for fresher quality, currently accounts for 90 percent of all milk consumed in Korea.  However, the retail price of local milk is 40 percent higher than imported UHT milk currently, and many cafes and large consumers are switching to imported UHT milk for lower prices.  Leading imported UHT milk brands currently in distribution in Korea are from European countries (Germany, Italy, and Poland) and Australia. 


"2 Out of 7 Royal Jelly Products Imported by Consumers Do Not Meet Local Quality Standards", Korea Consumer Agency 

Summary: The Korea Consumer Agency (KCA) repoorted on October 8 that its recent inspection of 20 royal jelley products offered by foreign on-line shops for consumer direct imports found violations in quality or labeling standards.  Four of the products did not contain enough 10-HAD fatty acid (the key compound in royal jelly) according to the Korean Food Code.  Five of the products had "Super Food" or other health claims that are not allowed for royal jelly products under Korean labeling standards.  KCA said that consumers should take extra caution when purchasing royal jelley products in foreign on-line shops.  KCA also added that it will ask the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety to implement stronger market monitoring and intervention on imported royal jelly products. 


Squid Chicken Becomes Real … Food Companies have Started Global Marketing  

Summary: The food industry has stepped up to benefit from the Netflix Drama “Squid Game”.  Since the Squid Game is gaining popularity not only in Korea but also around the world, drama-related products are also becoming popular.  “KKanbu Chicken” is actively using Squid Game for their marketing.  They put a promotional poster with phrases from the drama on Instagram.  They also launched the new squid chicken that is expected to benefit from the drama craze.  Samyang Food is also a leading K-food company that expects sales to rise due to this Korean drama wave.  


Consumer Prices Soar in September to  Nine Year High 

Summary: According to Korean government data, the consumer price index reached 108.83 in September, up 2.5 percent from the same month last year.  It was the largest monthly rise in 9 years since June 2012.  The government said that the sharp rise in consumer prices was mainly due to strong international commodity prices.  Key consumer products that saw the largest price rises were eggs (up 43 percent), gasoline (up 21 percent), pork meat (16 percent), instant noodles (10 percent), and bread (6 percent).  While the government is reportedly making an effort to stabilize consumer prices (under the goal of keeping inflation below 2 percent), on-going shifts in key market variables (international commodity prices and dollar-won exchange rate) suggest that consumer prices will face upward pressure in coming months. 


Sales of Premium Lunch Boxes Up, GS25 Convenience Stores 

Summary: GS25, a leading convenience store chain in South Korea, reported on October 7 that its sales of premium lunch boxes priced at 5,000 won ($4.2 USD) or higher continued solid growth this year.  As a result, premium products accounted for 22.5 percent of all lunch boxes sold in GS25 during the third quarter this year.  GS25 said that more consumers opted for better quality lunch boxes offered in convenience stores during the pandemic. 


Remove Disposable Trays and Spoons from CJ’s Seaweed and Porridge  

Summary: CJ CheilJedang produces products without disposable products.  According to CheilJedang, it has launched a product that removes disposable products to actively reduce plastic and other waste.  It also reflectconsumers' desire to reduce plastic for the environment.  The removal of disposable products is expected to reduce more than 100 tons of plastic annually.  CJ also said they will try to reduce plastic use and focus more on eco-friendly packaging in line with the trend.  


Ginseng Farmers are Having a Hard Time … Efforts to Resolve the Crisis by Boosting Consumption  

Summary: Ginseng farmers are struggling as the COVID crisis continues.  Ginseng prices have fallenand some ginseng has not been harvested.  According to the Chungbuk Ginseng Agricultural Cooperative Federation, the price of processed ginseng fell by nearly 40%.  This is because COVID-19 has caused festivals to be canceled and reduced sales at duty-free shops.  As a result, the local government is trying to boost consumption.  The local government has set up a walk-through sales center to solve it.  Demand is expected to increase as customers can choose ginseng themselves at the sales center.  


K-seaweed is Exported to 112 Countries   

Summary: Foreign market preference for Korean seaweed continues to increase.  According to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, exports of marine products from January to September totaled $1.95 billion, an increase of 18.3% from the previous year.  It is the first time that exports of laver have exceeded $500 million in nine months.  Currently, Korean seaweed is sold in 112 countries.  This is more than double the number of countries Korea exported to in 2010.  This year Korea started exporting seaweed to Portugal and Bhutan, and export destinations have become more diverse.  Until now, more than 70% of seaweed has been exported to Japan, China, and the United States alone, but now exports to other countries is increasing.  The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said they will support strengthening competitiveness in all processes from production to processing to meet the global demand for Korean seaweed. 


ASF Outbreak Confirmed in a Swine Farm in Inje County 

Summary: Gangwon Provincial Government reported on October 5 that it confirmed an outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) in a swine farm in Inje county.  The 700 pigs in the farm will be depopulated. 


Lotte Mart to Offer 1 Million Bottles of Wine at Bargain Prices … Consumers Maintain Strong Interest in Wine 

Summary: Lotte Mart, a leading hypermarket chain in South Korea, reported that it will stage a special sales promotion on wine during October 7 through 13.  The promotion will offer 1 million bottles of wine at bargain prices.  Lotte Mart said that the promotion is to meet increased consumer demand and interest for wine.  Lotte Mart's wine sales increased 52 percent this year through September compared to the same period last year. 


Convenience Stores Report Strong Sales Growth This year … Elevated Consumer Demand for Near-home Shopping during the Pandemic 

Summary: The top three convenience store chains in South Korea (CU, GS25, Seven Eleven) reported that their sales this year through August increased 6 percent on average compared to the same period last year.  (Together these three chains account for over 90 percent of convenience store sales.)  On the other hand, other conventional retail store segments, including hypermarket stores and grocery supermarkets, reported weak sales growth.  Marketers said that elevated consumer demand for near-home shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic was the key driver for the outstanding performance by convenience stores.  Leading chains have made extra effort to offer quick meal solution products coupled with easy home delivery services.  For example, sales of home meal replacement products in CU increased 31 percent this year through September.  CU increased the number of products offered for home delivery service to 1,000 this year. 


Nongshim Sells More 'Sinramyun' Instant Noodle in Foreign Markets than in Korea This Year 

Summary: Nongshim Co., the leading instant noodle processor in South Korea, reported that it generated bigger sales of its flagship product 'Shinramyun' in foreign markets than in Korea for the first time this year.  Nongshim said that among 690 million won ($600 million USD) of Shinramyun sales this year through September, 54 percent was from sales in foreign markets.  Nongshim plans to strengthen its export business partly by establishing additional processing facilities in foreign markets.  Nongshim currently operates three processing facilities in foreign markets (two in China and one in the United States); this will be increased to four by the end of this year with the opening of a second facility in the United States.  


40 Food Ingredients are Added, Standard for Aflatoxin has been Established  

Summary: As demand for Home Meal Replacements (HMR) has increased due to COVID-19, companies have been introducing more HMR products with meat.  Accordingly, a standard for aflatoxin M1, a fungal toxin, has been established.  In addition, about 40 kinds of seafood with an edible basis have been confirmed and now can be used as food ingredients.  An aflatoxin standard has been established to enhance the safety of goat milk.  These newly established standards take effect immediately from the date of notification, except Aflatoxin.  The standard for Aflatoxin will take effect starting April 1st, 2022. 


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