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Food News Clipping

February 22, 2022


FAS/Seoul Monitoring of Media Reporting on Agricultural Issues

Today's Date: Tuesday,  February 22,  2022

For Coverage: February 14 ~ 18, 2022


Food By-products are Upcycled

Summary:  Food upcycling is spreading rapidly in the Korean food industry.  Food by-products that were normally thrown away such as biji, a tofu residue, and broken rice are transformed into a new eco-friendly food products.  On February 18th, food-tech startup ¡®Unlimeat¡¯ launched an alternative meat product ¡®Unlimeat Slices¡¯ applying food upcycling technology.  It is made of non-fat soybean powder and rice bran, a byproduct from milling brown rice.  Soybean powder is high in protein and rice bran contains 90% of the nutrients in the rice.  Min Geum Chae, CEO of ¡®Unlimeat¡¯ started the food upcycling business in 2017, making juice and other beverages using agricultural products that are normally thrown away.


The Fair Trade Commission Imposes 135 Billion Won Fine on 5 Confectionery Companies For Fixing Sales Prices

Summary:  The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) announced on February 17 that they have decided to impose a combined 135 billion won in fines on five confectionery companies (Lotte Holdings, Lotte Confectionery Co., Lotte Food, Binggrae, Haitai Confectionery and Foods) for fixing ice cream prices.  The Fair Trade Commission is also planning a prosecution against Binggrae and Lotte Food.  Four confectioneries agreed to fix the sales prices and supplies of ice cream products.  They also agreed on dividing distribution channels so that each of them could secure retailers.  As a result, the number of times these four confectioneries took over competitors' clients decreased significantly from 719 in 2016 to 29 in 2019.  The Ministry of Strategy and Finance explained that FTC¡¯s measure were aimed at addressing recent consumer price inflation.


The Factory Price of Soju Increased 7.9%

Summary:  Hite Jinro, the leading Korean soju producer, has decided to increase prices for the first time in three years.  Hite Jinro announced on February 18 that they will increase the factory prices of some of their products such as ¡®Chamisal Fresh¡¯, ¡®Chamisal Original¡¯, and ¡®Jinro¡¯ by an average of 7.9% starting February 23.  A company official said that ¡®Ilpoom Jinro¡¯ was not included in this price rise in order to boost the premium soju market.  Hite Jinro explained that the price increase was due to the recent rise in expenses, including raw material costs, logistics costs, and production costs.  The industry expects that other companies will start raising prices as well.


Mc Donald¡¯s Increases Prices by an Average of 2.8%

Summary:  Mc Donald¡¯s is raising the price of 30 menu items by an average of 2.8% starting February 17.  Customers will be charged 100 to 300 won more for bulgogi (Korean beef) burgers and americanos.  The prices of burger sets (bulgogi burger set, Mc chicken mozzarella burger set, quarter pounder cheese burger set) will also increase by 200-300 won.  Burger sets with high consumption levels (Big Mc set and Mc spicy Shanghai burger set) are not included in the price increase.  A Mc Donald¡¯s official explained that this price adjustment was an unavoidable decision made to ensure quality products and services in the face of rising raw material prices and international logistics costs.  Mc Donald¡¯s decided to raise price as little as possible to ease price pressure on customers.  They also promised continuous efforts on projects such as ¡®Best Burger¡¯ and ¡®Taste of Korea¡¯ to provide the best menus and enhance customer benefits.


Hypermarkets Turn into Stores Specialized in Fresh Food, Wine and Living

Summary:  Offline hypermarkets were hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.  Most of the large distributors moved online during the pandemic, and local convenience stores surpassed hypermarkets in sales last year.  Hypermarket sales ranked third after department stores and convenience stores in 2021.  Convenience stores strengthened product competitiveness while taking advantage of their proximity to consumers.  On the other hand, hypermarkets have been hampered by regulations such as mandatory closures twice a month and restrictions on early morning deliveries.  Hypermarkets are trying to get back on track by reforming themselves into specialized stores for fresh food, wine and living products.  They are seeking positive customer experiences by expanding premium specialty stores and experiential content.  Homeplus reopened its Incheon Ganseok branch as a ¡®Mega Food Market¡¯ strengthening the food sector on February 17.  Homeplus located salad stores (that sell personally customized salads) and bakeries at the entrance.  There¡¯s also a wine store ¡®The Wine Seller¡¯ that offers 1,200 kinds of wines including premium wine, natural wine and port wine.  The non-food stores, which have been reduced, are composed of customer experience-type specialty stores for wine, kitchenware, toys, and home appliances.  Homeplus is planning to expand ¡®Mega Food Markets¡¯ to at least 17 stores this year.  An industry official said that major hypermarkets are focusing on the fresh food market in which they can remain competitive compared to other offline and online distribution channels.


Delivery Platforms Will Add Reusable Container Options

Summary:  The monthly average of disposable food delivery containers used in Seoul totaled 54 million last year.  Consumers will be provided an option to receive food in a reusable container when making delivery orders through major delivery platforms such as Coupang Eats and Baemin.  The service will be first applied in the Seoul area.  Some people are expecting a positive effect on the environment, reducing waste.  There are also concerns on the new service, since customers can be charged a higher delivery fee.  Customers might have to pay an additional cost of at least 5,000 to 6,000 won since the containers should be collected and cleaned after one order is completed.


Sales of Traditional Soybean Paste Rebound After Continuous Decline

Summary:  During the pandemic, the home-cooked meal craze fueled growth in the Korean traditional soybean paste market.  According to the Food Information Statistics System of Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation, traditional soybean paste production totaled 2,334 tons in 2020, rebounding after a continuous drop for 3 consecutive years.  Daesang, a food giant reported that sales of soybean paste in 2021 increased by an average of 4.5% compared to the previous year.  Among them, sales of Korean traditional soybean paste increased 11.1% in 2021 from the year before.


Fruit Can be Added Up to 50% of the Weight of Germinated Wheat in Beer

Summary:  Previously, the amount of fruit allowed in the beer making process was limited to 20% of the weight of germinated wheat and starch.  Under the amended Liquor Tax Act Liquor Tax Act Enforcement Decree, the brewers will be able to add fruit up to half the weight of germinated wheat and barley (including fruit juice and dried fruit), even if it exceeds the total weight limit.  Various new types of alcoholic drinks added fruit will be developed accordingly.  The starting point of the tax rate application for makgeolli and beer is also changed from March 1 to April 1, so the same tax rate can be applied during the first quarter of every year.


GS Retail Improves Logistics Productivity Through Automation

Summary:  GS Retail reported that it improved its customer order processing capacity and the productivity of their prime center by more than 200% by implementing an advanced logistics system.  The newly introduced system has also contributed to customer satisfaction by diversifying product offerings, enhancing freshness of food products, and reducing mis-deliveries.  According to GS Retail¡¯s online platform GS Fresh Mall, the prime center is offering more than twice as many products as other centers through the advanced system.  Park Yeong hoon, the vice president of the digital commerce section of GS Fresh Mall has said that through automation, product packaging and loading times have been reduced substantially, enhancing the freshness of food products.  Also, the first-in first-out management of products and shelf-life control management are automated, and the product disposal and damage rates were reduced accordingly.


CJ Cheil Jedang Achieved Record Sales Last Year

Summary:  CJ Cheil Jedang achieved sales of 15.74 trillion won last year, up 11.2 percent from the year before.  Meanwhile, operating profits of Cheil Jedang increased 13.2 percent to 1.18 trillion won.  It was the first time Cheil Jedang surpassed 15 trillion in sales.  Cheil Jedang¡¯s food division recorded sales of 9.57 trillion won and operating profits of 554 billion won last year.  Sales (up 6.7%) and operating profits (up 8.8%) increased from the year before.  Sales of home meal replacement products and processed rice grew steadily in the domestic market.  Futuristic food products such as ¡®Taste and Rich¡¯ and ¡®Flavor and Rich¡¯ increased about 7 times in 2021 from the year before.


Pandemic Raises Importance of Cleanliness and Hygiene of Restaurants

Summary:  According to Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation¡¯s survey conducted with 1,342 people aged between 20 and 69, ¡®cleanliness and hygiene¡¯ became an important factor for customers when choosing where to eat.  The factor consumers considered the most important was still ¡®taste and quality¡¯ of food (94.3%).  The percent of respondents who chose cleanliness and hygiene was 92.4% (respondents were allowed to give multiple responses).  Cleanliness and hygiene was considered more important than price (86.0%), service quality (81.1%), and reputation (80.5%).  Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation explained that consumer demand for dining out at safe restaurants has increased substantially during the pandemic.  In the 2019 survey before the outbreak of COVID-19, the most important factor for consumers was the taste of food (71.6%), followed by price (46.2%), accessibility (38.4%), and then cleanliness (22.7%).  Moreover, in the 2021 survey, hygiene was considered the most important factor when choosing where to eat alone, accounting for 91.1 % of total respondents.


E-mart Launches Three New Plant-based Tuna Products

Summary:  E-mart announced on the 14th that they will start selling three new products using plant-based ingredients.  The newly launched ¡®Plant Tuna Triangular Kimbap¡¯ is made using plant-based tuna and soy mayonnaise.  ¡®Plant Tuna Sandwich¡¯ was made using a meat substitute pastrami and plant-based tuna.  These items will be sold in all branches of E-mart 24.  With the pre-order purchases option, customers will be able to receive these products at any time and store they want.  Son Ju Hyeon, an E-mart Fresh Food team MD has said that E-mart is launching new plant-based products to keep pace with the fast changing, various needs of customers.  



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