Market Information   >   Food News Clipping

Food News Clipping

August 26- September 1, 2023


FAS/Seoul Monitoring of Media Reporting on Agricultural Issues 

Today's Date: Friday,  September 1,  2023

For Coverage:  August 26 ~ September 1, 2023


Korean Government to Inject $50 Million to Boost Spending During Chuseok

Summary:  In an effort to stimulate domestic consumption, the Korean government plans to provide individuals with accommodation vouchers for the upcoming 6-day Chuseok and National Foundation Day holiday.  In addition, the government plans to subsidize, by 20-30 percent, the groceries necessary to celebrate Chuseok, such as apples, chicken and mackerel, until September 28th.  The subsidies will be supported by markets and cooperatives who will provide their own vouchers, with an end result of 40-60 percent discounts on the major Chuseok food products.  The government is also looking at ways to support the seafood industry given the concerns related to the discharge of the Fukushima waste water, including setting aside an additional 80 billion won in the preliminary budget to encourage seafood consumption this year.


Imports of Kimchi and Beer Increased Again... Import of Processed Foods Increased by 3% in the First Half of the Year

Summary:  While the first half of this year saw a 3.1 percent rise in processed food imports compared to the same period last year, the overall food import figures dropped by 3.9 percent.  This decline was primarily due to a reduction in the import of agricultural and marine products.  The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has reported a total decrease of 1.1 percent in import costs.  Notably, agricultural and marine products make up 44.4 percent of total imports and play a significant role, but they saw an 8.7 percent drop in the first half of this year.  South Korea imports 1,665 different products, with the top ten items being refined and processed raw materials, wheat, corn, soybeans, pork, beef, bananas, kimchi, beer, and processed fruit and vegetable products.  These items, sourced from 155 countries, collectively constitute nearly half of all imports.  This year, there was a sharp decline in corn imports, a 50 percent drop in pollock seafood imports compared to the previous year, and a 15 percent decrease in health care product imports.  On a positive note, beer and kimchi imports are showing signs of recovery.  Additionally, the import of animal products is steadily increasing, with chicken imports particularly prominent due to favorable tariff quotas.  An interesting news this year is the 41.2 percent surge in squid imports, attributed to a shortage of squid in the Eastern Sea of Korea.


Korea Begins Intensive Radiation Tests on Salt Fields over Fukushima Concerns

Summary:  The Oceans Ministry has announced that Korea has started intensive radiation tests on salt fields across the country amid safety concerns over Japan’s release of water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant.  Though the ministry has been carrying out radiation testing on 150 major salt fields across the country since April, they have strengthened the testing by mobilizing private entities to help ease public concerns.  Salt farm testing will finish in October, when salt production ends, and shift to checks on packaged salt in November.  All samples tested so far have met the safety standards.


PPP Decides to Refer to Fukushima Water as “Treated Contaminated Water”

Summary:  The ruling People Power Party (PPP) decided to refer to the radioactive water being released by Japan as “treated contaminated water” on Wednesday.  This decisions comes after the chief of the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative, Noh Dong-jin, called for the term’s use during a PPP meeting discussed ways to boost seafood consumption amid the water release.  Noh Dong-jin stated that using the term “contaminated water” is misleading and causing increased public fear regarding the safety of local seafood.


1L of White Milk Won't Go Over 3,000 KRW... Government and Industry’s "Efforts to Minimize Cost Increase”

Summary:  As raw milk prices rise, the cost of milk for consumers is also expected to increase.  The Seoul Milk Cooperative has begun implementing a price increase, prompting other milk manufacturers like Maeil and Namyang to assess the appropriate cost for consumers.  As this trend of higher prices continues, the food industry is attempting to alleviate customer pressure by keeping food prices stable.  In response, the largest milk manufacturer 'Seoul Milk' has set a price of under 3,000 KRW per 1000mL, prompting other companies to follow suit.  Major retailers, including Nonghyup and Homeplus, have agreed not to exceed this 3,000 KRW for milk and are negotiating with the dairy companies to ensure this pricing.  However, many dairy companies, given the declining profits, and increased costs of raw materials, believe that a greater price increase for white milk is needed.


"Zero Sugar, Calorie Fever"... Korea's Beverage Market Surpasses 10 Trillion KRW for the First Time

Summary:  In 2022, the beverage market in Korea has surpassed the ten trillion KRW for the first time.  The emphasis on health has driven the success of beverage products with low calories and zero sugar.  This achievement marks a 20 percent growth compared to 2019, making it the first time the market has exceeded ten trillion KRW.  The distribution of beverage spending is as follows: 30.8 percent on coffee, 24.5 percent on soda, and 12.1 percent on tea,11.4 percent on mixed drinks, 8.2 percent on fruit/vegetable drinks, 4.2 percent on soy milk, and 3.5 percent on ginseng/red ginseng drinks.  Notably, the Korean beverage export market is also expanding.  In the previous year, it demonstrated a 4.5 percent increase compared to 2021, reaching a total of 9.5 billion dollars.  Key players in this export market are China and the United States.  Given the growing emphasis on health and sustainability, the global beverage market is witnessing, and will likely continue to witness, a rise in sales of products with zero sugar, low calories, and eco-friendly attributes.  This trend is expected to boost the demand for tea and plant-based beverages.  Similar to the increased popularity of Kombucha, the Korean tea and plant-based beverage market is anticipated to experience growth as well.


Korea to Conduct 100-day Intensive Inspection into Seafood Imports on Fukushima Woes

Summary:  In order to address public safety concerns related to the Fukushima water release, Korea launched, on Monday, a special inspection into the country of origin for imported products.  For 100 days, the intensive inspection will check if importers, distributors and retailers properly mark the origin of major seafood items coming from overseas.  This is the second intensive inspection for imported seafood, the first of which took place in May and June.  Those who fail to mark the country of origin can face fines up to 10 million won and those who forge the mark can face fines up to 100 million won and up to seven years in prison.


Bank of Korea Says Domestic and Foreign Food Price Growth Will Continue to Increase

Summary:  The Bank of Korea has raised concerns about the potential ramifications of surging global food prices for the Korean food industry.  This impending issue is expected to gradually affect food prices and restaurant operations in Korea.  The rise in global food costs, partly due to adverse weather affecting fruit and vegetable production, serves as a one of the factors.  Complicating matters, challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic and agricultural disruptions have exacerbated the upward trend in food prices.  This challenge extends beyond Korea, as evidenced by England's 19.2 percent increase in food costs linked to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.  According to the Bank of Korea's analysis, the factors driving higher food prices are unlikely to abate soon.  These factors include disruptions in grain supply due to the cease of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and India's decision to limit rice exports.  Climate change impacts like El Niño also contribute.  Korea's susceptibility to these fluctuations is rooted in its heavy reliance on food imports.  With a grain self-sufficiency rate of only 20.9 percent in 2021, Korea's vulnerability to food price is evident, except for rice.  Although immediate effects on Korean restaurants and processed food businesses may be minimal, the long-term implications indicate that these sectors will eventually feel the strain of escalating food costs.


BBQ Nominated as 'America's Fastest Growing Restaurant Brand' for 3 Consecutive Years

Summary:  According to Nation’s Restaurant News, Genesis BBQ Group has achieved the prestigious title of 'America's Fastest Growing Restaurant Brand' for three consecutive years.  Their consistent ranking as 5th, 2nd, and 7th in the years following 2021 underscores their continuous growth in the restaurant industry.  What sets this accomplishment apart is that BBQ is the only Korean brand to have secured this achievement, standing out for its success in the American market.  Starting from Manhattan in 2006, BBQ's rapid expansion now spans across 250 restaurants in 25 states.  Their adoption of the BBQ Smart Kitchen model has optimized kitchen operations for efficiency.  Moreover, their responsiveness to evolving consumer trends is evident in their introduction of the Grab&Go model, catering to the demand for convenience.  In addition, a representative from BBQ mentioned their commitment to innovative expansion strategies, as they aim to reach all 50 states in the future.


Thousands Rally in Seoul to Protest Fukushima Wastewater Release

Summary:  On Saturday, August 26, thousands of people rallied in Seoul to protest Japan’s release of water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant.  Participants included over 90 civic groups and members of four political opposition parties.  The protest came two days after Japan started releasing the water.  The groups have concerns on the potential impact of the water on the environment and people’s health and will continue to hold rallies.



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