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Food News Clipping

October 13 - November 1, 2021


FAS/Seoul Monitoring of Media Reporting on Agricultural Issues

Today's Date: Monday,  November 1, 2021

For Coverage: October 13 ~   November 1, 2021

KRA Horse Races to Have In-person Spectators from November 5
Summary: The Korea Racing Authority (KRA), a quasi-government agency that manages the horse industry in South Korea, announced on October 31 that its thoroughbred races will allow in-person spectators from November 5.  KRA said that the decision was in line with eased COVID-19 social distancing rules that the Korean government implemented from November 1.  In addition to three KRA racetracks, 21 "remote betting offices" that KRA operates in metropolitan areas will also reopen from November 5 for in-person visitors.  KRA added that all visitors should register on-line in advance for seats in the racetracks and remote betting offices.  In-person admissions will be limited to fully vaccinated people or people with negative PCR test certificates until the government social distancing rules are further eased.  KRA races were reduced to a minimal level without in-person spectators since last year due to the pandemic.

Government Forecasts Higher Cost for Winter Kimchi Preparation
Summary: According to the Korea Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA), the cost of preparing winter kimchi will increase significantly from last year due to reduced harvest of cabbages and radishes, coupled with higher costs for other ingredients.  MAFRA forecasts that the harvest of cabbages and radishes this fall will decline 7 percent and 2 percent respectively from the past five year average due to reduced planting acreages and unfavorable weather.  Retail prices of other ingredients, including table salt, red pepper powder, and garlic, have increased 16, 28, and 42 percent respectively this fall compared to the past year average.  As a result, the cost for a family of 4 people to prepare winter kimchi this year (20 cabbages volume) will likely be much higher than last year (305,300 won, about $256).

Our Home Launches In-store Promotion for 'Vaccinated Consumers' ... Restaurant Industry to Leverage Eased Social Distancing Measures
Summary: Our Home Co., a leading food service company in South Korea, reported that it will stage special consumer promotions in various restaurant chains under its umbrella from November 1.  The promotions will offer special gifts to fully-vaccinated visitors to the restaurants.  Our Home said that the promotions target to attract consumers as the new government social distancing rules are implemented on November 1.  The Korean government announced on October 28 that its COVID-19 social distancing policy will be eased from November 1 as the public vaccination rate reached 70 percent.  As a result, restaurants and food service establishments will be allowed to open 24 hours a day and receive consumers in a group of maximum 10 people (in Seoul metropolitan area) or 12 people (areas outside Seoul metropolitan area).

Korean Government Resumes Subsidizing Restaurant Discount Program as of 10:00 a.m., November 1, 2021
Summary: As of November 1, 2021, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) will resume its restaurant discount support program.  The program was carried out online during the severe COVID-19 situation in 2020.  The tourism discount support program, which had been stopped since November 2020, will also be restarted.  The carried-over subsidy of KRW 18 billion will be allocated to the restaurant discount support program and will be reimbursed to the restaurants on a first-come, first-served basis until the budget is exhausted.  Discount support for diners will be provided by visiting a restaurant or by achieving a certain purchase value when paying for an order through delivery apps.

Prices in the Food and Distribution Industries will Increase due to Logistics Difficulties and Cold Weather in Korea

Summary: The food distribution industry is in trouble because of the international logistics crisis and the cold wave in Korea.  First, domestic vegetable prices such as cabbage, green onions, and garlic are expected to rise due to the early cold weather ahead of the Kimchi-making season.  In particular, lettuce suffered from cold damage, making it difficult to supply.  McDonald’s stopped supplying lettuce for hamburger products beginning on October 22nd.  In addition, prices of imported agricultural and seafood products have risen sharply recently.  This is because air freight and container space have decreased.  Concerns over rising agricultural costs will also affect processed foods, leading to higher prices.

ROKG to Implement 'Living with the COVID-19, Stage 1' Plan from November 1 … Restaurants Allowed to Open 24 Hours/Day
Summary: The Korean government announced on October 25 that its current COVID-19 policy will be phased out over three stages as the public vaccination rate reached 70 percent.  The stage 1 plan will be implemented from November 1, which will ease many of the strict social distancing requirements.  Restaurants and foodservice establishments will be allowed to open 24 hours a day.  People can visit restaurants and foodservice establishments in a group of up to 10 people.  Baseball parks and other sports facilities will be allowed to have spectators up to 50 percent seating capacity.  Public gatherings will be allowed up to 499 people per an event.  There will be restrictions still in place for unvaccinated people.

RDA Pilot Farm in Gyeongnam Province Harvests High-brix 'Gold Kiwi'
Summary: The Korea Rural Development Agency (RDA) reported that its pilot kiwi farm in Sacheon city, Gyeongnam province started harvest on October 25.  RDA said that the kiwi fruit is a new, 'Gamhwang' variety that it developed.  Gamhwang kiwis are larger than regular kiwi fruit and can reach up to 19 brix sugar content.

Home Plus Introduces Vegan Food Section
Summary: Home Plus, a leading hypermarket grocery store chain in South Korea, reported on October 25 that it launched a vegan food section in its stores.  Home Plus said that the vegan section is part of its effort to offer more vegan and vegetarian products to meet increasing consumer demand. 

‘Chamisul’: Korean Soju Promoted in Europe by Truck
Summary: Hite Jinro is using trucks to promote its soju brand Chamsiul in 20 European countries.  Hite Jinro wanted consumers to be curious and ask questions about its green soju bottles.  It decided to advertise its bottles and labels on trucks to raise brand awareness.  These advertisements are scheduled to operate for two years.  Hite Jinro will continue various marketing activities suitable for Covid to promote the excellence of Korean Soju.

Dongseo Food will Introduce Paper Straws for Cup Coffee Products for the First Time in Korea
Summary: Dongseo Food will introduce recyclable paper straws for Starbucks cup coffee products from the end of this month.  The paper straws are attached to four 270ml Starbucks products.  Starting next year it will also be applied to Maxim TOP cup products.  The introduction of paper straws is expected to reduce plastic use by about 36 tons per year.  According to Dongseo Food, as companies’ social responsibility for the environment has become important they will continue to engage in Eco-friendly activities.

A Special Inspections of Overseas Direct Purchases of Plant-related Products will be Conducted During the Month of November
Summary: The Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs will conduct special inspections on plant-related products purchased directly from overseas in November.  During the special inspection period, detection dogs will be deployed to international mail and cargo facilities.  Also, newly installed X-rays will be used.  The main targets are products that do not have plant inspection certificates attached and products like seedlings and mangos that are banned from import. 

Eco-premium Water: 3360 Won Per 500ml Bottle, Popular with MZ Generation
Summary: Just water, an eco-premium bottled water imported and distributed by Shinsegae food, gained popularity among the MZ generation and sales surged.  ‘Just water’ has 82% of its packaging made of plant-based materials, so carbon emissions generated during production are 74% lower than for conventional packaging.  According to Shinsegae food, sales in the third quarter increased by 30% compared to the previous quarter.  This is because it met the desire of the MZ generation to pursue value based consumption.

Consumers are Angry at the Increase in Korean Milk Prices and are Looking for Imported Sterilized Milk as an Alternative
Summary: Korean consumers are looking for imported sterilized milk due to the increase in local milk prices beginning in early October.  This is because imported milk is not only cheaper than regular milk, but also has a longer storage period, making it suitable as a substitute.  Korea’s imports of sterilized milk is steadily increasing; as of the end of August this year, imports reached an all-time high.  Some say that it is difficult to make domestic milk competitive due to the lower production cost of sterilized milk produced in advanced dairy countries.  As tariffs on imported dairy products will be abolished in 2026, it will be necessary to make Korean milk more competitive. 

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