Market Information   >   Food News Clipping

Food News Clipping

October 13 - 18, 2023


FAS/Seoul Monitoring of Media Reporting on Agricultural Issues 

Today's Date: Friday,  October 20,  2023

For Coverage:  October 13 ~  18, 2023

Chicken Market Forecast of Q4… Supply is Likely to Be Stabilized

Summary:  Due to factors such as avian influenza, the price of chicken has been fluctuating.  However, the 'Poultry Market Report' by Meatbox predicts that chicken prices will stabilize in the last quarter of the year.  According to this report, there is an expected decrease in chicken prices in the coming weeks, followed by stability starting in November.  This projection is supported by the importation of 5 million eggs by the Korean government in August, which is expected to lead to a more stable chicken supply, with chicken from these eggs entering the market later in October or sometime in November.  Additionally, the Korean government has extended the tariff quota due date until the end of the year and doubled the limitation from 30,000 tons to 60,000 tons, allowing for more chicken imports with no tariff.  The Korea Broiler Council has also projected this change, which adds credibility to the Meatbox 'Poultry Market Report.'

Sugar Followed by Caffeine… the Beverage Industry Expanding Their De-Caffeine Market

Summary:  The beverage industry is showing a growing interest in the "Zero Caffeine" market due to research suggesting that excessive caffeine consumption may have negative health effects.  As a result, there's a rising focus on caffeine-free beverages.  In South Korea, decaffeinated beverages are primarily associated with coffee.  People who enjoy the taste of coffee but are sensitive to caffeine or avoid it in the evening often opt for decaffeinated coffee.  Major coffee chains like Starbucks Korea have seen a fourfold increase in their decaffeinated coffee sales over the past five years and are continuing this trend.  Other franchise coffee shops and convenience stores are also offering decaffeinated coffee, leading to increased imports of decaffeinated coffee beans.  This year, imports have surged by 45.8%, reaching 6,993 tons and 719.2 million dollars, compared to last year.  In addition to coffee, the Coca-Cola Company has introduced a decaffeinated product called "Coca-Cola Zero Zero," which is an enhanced version of their sugar-free soda.  In response to this new release, South Korean domestic companies have expressed their intentions to expand their offerings of caffeine-free beverages.

Global Sugar Prices Rise… Government Continues Monitoring and Plans to Maintain Quota Tariffs

Summary:  Lately, global sugar prices have remained high, prompting the South Korean government and the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation to closely monitor sugar-exporting countries and factors like their weather conditions, cultivation, and labor costs.  As of October 13th, the international sugar price stood at $727 per ton, marking a 35% increase compared to the previous year.  This surge is likely caused by the Indian government reducing its sugar exports and Thailand's anticipation of lower sugar cultivation.  It is projected that sugar prices will remain at this elevated level.  The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has assured that these global factors won't significantly impact South Korea's sugar prices.  This is because South Korea has already adjusted its sugar prices to account for this situation.  Additionally, many sugar suppliers are stockpiling sugar, ensuring a five-month supply for customers.  South Korea has been applying a tariff quota on sugar since June, meaning that sugar imports below 10,500 tons incur no tariffs.  The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs intends to closely monitor international sugar prices and continue the tariff quota system into 2024.

Choosing Alternative Foods for Health… But Want Improved Taste

Summary:  While the Korean food industry is increasingly focused on sustainability and alternative food products, consumers continue to prioritize taste, food texture, and their health when making food choices.  A survey conducted by the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation revealed that 54 percent of respondents consider health and dietary considerations as the most important factors when they are selecting substitute foods.  This was followed by factors like taste similarity, food safety, and price.  Dairy products were the primary substitute foods chosen by consumers, accounting for 61.5 percent of the preferences, followed by plant-based meat.  Consumers who tried these substitute foods typically recommended improving the taste, enhancing food texture, and reducing prices.  It's clear that consumers place a significant emphasis on the sensory qualities of food when selecting alternatives for health and dietary reasons.  In addition, among those who had previously tried substitute foods, 84.5 percent expressed their willingness to try them again.  Recognizing this trend, the Korean food industry is actively entering this emerging market.  Companies such as Lotte WellFood, CJ Cheiljedang, Pulmuone Food, and Shinsegae Food are expanding their product offerings in the substitute food market, particularly focusing on plant-based meat.  Overall, the Agro-Fisheries & Food industry projects that sustainability will be a crucial factor in the future of the food industry.  As food technology continues to advance, it is expected to play a significant role in shaping the substitute food market of the future.

Even with the Introduction of ‘Use-By-Date’, Only 3.3% of Foods Became Longer than the Conventional Expiration Date

Summary:  In Korea, there has been a recent shift in how food expiration dates are labeled.  Until January 2023, these dates were referred to as 'sell-by-dates' for both suppliers and consumers.  However, as of January 2023, they are now called 'use-by-dates.'  Despite this change, a study by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety found that only a small percentage of food products have extended their expiration dates.

According to their report, out of 51,928 food products from the top 100 food companies, 84.4 percent have updated their packaging to reflect the new 'use-by-date' terminology.  However, the actual expiration date has only been extended for 3.9 percent of these updated packages, which amounts to just 3.3 percent of all the food products.  Typically, an expiration date is set to reflect a period during which the food quality remains at a high level, usually around 60 to 70 percent of its real expiration.  For instance, if a food product's quality starts to decline 100 days after production, the expiration date would be set at 60 to 70 days.  The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety points out that processed tofu, for example, now has a 'use-by-date' ranging from 8 to 64 days, whereas the old expiration date ranged from 7 to 40 days.

Korea's decision to shift from food expiration dates to 'use-by-dates' is aimed at promoting more efficient use of natural resources and easing the pressure on food producers, ultimately benefiting the Korean economy.  The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety currently allows the mixed use of 'use-by-dates' and 'sell-by-dates' this year, but from the next year, only 'use-by-dates' will be applied to foods sold to customers.  However, Health and Welfare Committee showed concerns that further measures are needed to ensure that the change to 'use-by-dates' has a more practical impact.


Popular in Overseas as Well... Processed and Fresh Foods Led the Export of Korean Food

Summary:  Despite the fact that Korean product exports are facing certain limitations, there is a notable increase in the export of Korean food.  According to a report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs, Korean food exports have risen by 0.2 percent compared to the same period last year, reaching a total of 6.67 billion US dollars.  This increase is especially significant when considering the overall 11.5 percent decrease in Korea's total exports during the same period.  This growth in food exports is mainly driven by popular products such as ramen, beverages, processed foods, kimchi, and strawberries.  Ramen exports have surged by 22.7 percent, beverage exports by 9.2 percent, kimchi exports by 16.6 percent, and strawberry exports by 26.5 percent.  The rise in food exports can be attributed to the global spreading of Korean cultural content, particularly Korean dramas and movies, which have played a pivotal role in promoting Korea and its food products.  Countries like the United States of America have shown an increasing interest in Korean food items.  The Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs is committed to sustaining this upward trend in Korean food exports.  They have announced their intention to employ diverse methods to tailor export plans for different regions and are dedicated to further expanding Korean food exports.

"Cabbage Prices Skyrocketed and Giving Up Making Kimchi."  Convenience Stores are Now Famous for Kimchi

Summary:  Koreans have an annual event of making kimchi between November and December.  In this season, usually families gather around in a group and make large amount of kimchi for the coming year.  However, this annual event started to decrease.  Before the peak season for making a large quantity of kimchi, the retail industry is witnessing a new trend where customers are increasingly buying kimchi from convenience stores.  This shift is the result in a decline in traditional kimchi-making practices in Korea.  According to GS Retail and BGF Retail, when looking at kimchi sales, they observed a significant increase of 13.8 percent and 14.6 percent respectively, compared to the previous month.  It's becoming evident that consumers are now turning to convenience stores to purchase kimchi as the kimchi-making season approaches.


This change in consumer behavior is suspected to be driven by two main factors: the rising cost of cabbage and the complexity of preparing kimchi at home, especially as the number of single-person households increases.  According to aT, the price of cabbage has surged to 6,905 Korean Won, marking a 25.4 percent increase compared to the previous month.  Convenience stores are capitalizing on this trend by expanding their kimchi offerings and introducing discount events to attract and engage customers.

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