Market Information   >   Food News Clipping

Food News Clipping

October 19 - 25, 2023


FAS/Seoul Monitoring of Media Reporting on Agricultural Issues 

Today's Date: Friday,  October 27,  2023

For Coverage:  October 19 ~  25, 2023

Tsingtao 'Urine Beer' Impact… Resurgence of Chinese Food Phobia

Summary:  Tsingtao beer, a well-known Chinese brand, has been popular among Korean consumers a while.  However, a recent video incident ‘Tsingtao urine beer’ has raised concerns.  A video circulated on social media, seemingly showing a worker urinating in the beer.  The company responsible for importing Tsingtao stated that the factory in the video is not linked to the production of the imported beer but is for Chinese domestic supply.  Despite this clarification, consumers appear wary, and it's expected that Tsingtao sales may suffer for a while.  According to information from the supply chain industry, Tsingtao's sales in convenience stores have dropped by 30% compared to the previous week.  BeerK, the importer of Tsingtao, is making every effort to alleviate consumer frustration by emphasizing that the location in the video is a different factory from where Tsingtao is imported to Korea.  Even the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has confirmed this distinction.  Nevertheless, consumer anger remains unabated.  In terms of statistics from the Korea Customs Service, last year's beer import from China was valued $36 million, totaling 46,504 metric tons.  This accounted for 16.1% of Korea's total beer imports.  However, this year, it's apparent that Japanese beer imports have risen, making Japan the leading market for beer imports in Korea.

Rapid Growth in Health Care Demand… Every Food Company Joins This Business

Summary:  In October 2022, BGF Retail introduced a new snack menu that is rich in protein and low in calories.  Furthermore, a new soy milk, which is full of protein has achieved impressive sales of 10 million units in a year and a half.  The market is displaying a growing interest in protein, and this trend is rapidly gaining momentum.  This shift is particularly significant given the challenges posed by an aging population and declining birth rates, making the food industry eager to succeed in the protein market.  According to the Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation, the protein market, which was valued at 81.3 billion KRW in 2019, has surged to 400 billion KRW in 2022.  This upward trajectory is expected to continue as more consumers are keen on increasing protein into their diets.  In the past, protein was regarded as an additional food for individuals who are engaged in intense workouts.  However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, a greater number of health-conscious individuals began prioritizing their well-being and increased their protein consumption to promote better health.  This surge in demand for protein-related products has prompted food companies to offer a diverse range of protein options.  Beyond traditional protein powders and drinks, a wide variety of protein-rich snacks is now readily available in the market.  For instance, CU has expanded its protein product selection from 90 to 190 within the past year, and Emart 24 has increased its product range from 30 to 50, resulting in a remarkable 381 percent boost in protein beverage sales.  These protein products cater to a broad spectrum of consumers, spanning from young adults in their 20s to 30s to older individuals who are willing to invest in protein-rich foods to maintain their well-being.


K-Bakery Over K-Pop… Promoting Korean Styled Food

Summary:  The Korean bakery is currently undergoing a remarkable accomplishment, with Paris Baguette and Tous les Jour achieving impressive success in expanding internationally.  Their primary focus is on the North American market, where they have been thriving with their distinctive approach, which sets them apart from American bakeries.  Paris Baguette presently operates 150 bakeries, with plans to increase this number to 200 by year-end.  They have been consistently profitable since 2005 when they first entered the American bakery market.  Tous les Jour, with 100 bakeries, has also been gaining profit surpluses since 2018.  Both of these Korean bakeries share the common goal of opening 1,000 bakeries in North America by 2030.  The key difference in their success is the wide array of bakery products they offer—more than 200 different types of bread, in contrast to local American bakeries, which typically provide fewer than a hundred options. This extensive selection, a common feature of Korean bakeries, presents a new and exciting experience for foreign customers.  Additionally, their bakery decor is considered more sophisticated compared to traditional American bakeries.  These distinctive strategies are recognized as the driving force behind the success of these two Korean bakery brands.

Korean Beef and Milk Cow Farm 'Lumpy Skin Disease' Emergency... Confirmed in 10 Places in Three Days

Summary:  Starting from October 20th, there has been a concerning spread of Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) among cows.  This virus is exclusive to cows and is characterized by the development of large skin humps and high fevers.  LSD also has adverse effects on cow fertility and milk production.  The primary mode of transmission is through mosquitoes, and importantly, it does not affect humans.  The Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs has reported the detection of the disease in 10 locations within just three days.  The initial findings were in Seosan and Dangjin, where three locations were affected.  In response, efforts have been initiated to cull infected cows and conduct extensive sanitation measures in those areas.  To mitigate further damage, adjacent regions are actively vaccinating their cows.  Additionally, as a preventative measure, ten cow markets have been temporarily closed.  Chungcheongnam-do Province, where Seosan and Dangjin are located, is home to approximately 530,000 cows, making up 13 percent of the national cow population.  Recognizing this significant threat, the Korean government has raised the threat level and is intensifying sanitation efforts to maintain the cow population.

Now It is 2,000 KRW for a Bowl of Rice

Summary:  Recently, there has been a noticeable increase in food prices in South Korea.  In many Korean restaurants, the standard cost for a bowl of rice used to be 1,000 KRW.  However, there has been a contentious debate between consumers and restaurant owners, as some restaurants have raised the price of rice to 2,000 KRW.  Consumers are expressing their frustration, feeling that this price increase is unreasonable.  On the other side, restaurant owners argue that they had no other option but to raise the prices due to the rising cost of rice.  According to the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation, the retail price of a 20kg of rice has increased by 20 percent compared to the previous year.  Consequently, some restaurants have increased their rice prices, and a few are even encouraging others to do the same online.  However, consumers are not pleased with the price increase, and they don't empathize with the restaurant owners.  Amidst this rice price issue, the Korea Consumer Agency has reported that the price of Black Noodle, a Chinese and Korean fusion dish, has gone up by 10 percent and now averages 7,069 KRW.  This marks the first time that Black Noodle has exceeded 7,000 KRW.  Additionally, they have noted a 6 percent increase in the price of bibimbap, a 5 percent increase in kimbap, and a 9 percent increase in samgaetang, a Korean chicken soup.

“There is Nothing Left When You Use Domestic Products"… Restaurants Use Chinese Kimchi

Summary:  Recently, a restaurant owner in Incheon, South Korea, decided to switch from using Korean cabbage for making kimchi to Chinese cabbage.  This restaurant owner, who has been in business for a long time, used to prepare her own kimchi because the taste was crucial to her dishes.  However, with the surging price of cabbage, she had to use imported Chinese kimchi to relieve the financial pressure of rising food cost.  Some of her customers expressed dissatisfaction, noting a change in the taste of her food, but she had no alternative to maintain the restaurant.  The increasing severity of global warming, resulting in heavy rainfall and extremely hot weather resulted in low cultivation rate of cabbage.  Due to the shortage of cabbage, it has given rise to what is referred to as "kimchiflation," a term combining kimchi and inflation.  Consequently, the South Korean food service industry is becoming relying heavily on imported products.  According to the Korea Customs Service, between January and August 2023, approximately 187,000 tons of kimchi were imported, marking a 14 percent increase compared to the previous year.  Chinese imports accounted for 99.9 percent of this total.  Many restaurant owners are now seeking affordable and high-quality kimchi from China.  While they acknowledge that kimchi made from Korean ingredients is tastier, they are compelled to use lower-cost Chinese kimchi to sustain their businesses.  To provide specific numbers, Korean kimchi is three times more expensive than its Chinese counterpart.  While Chinese kimchi products are priced between 12,000 and 15,000 KRW per 10kg, Korean products cost over 30,000 KRW.  Additionally, the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation reported a 14.2 percent increase in the retail price of cabbage compared to the previous year, with prices reaching 6,225 KRW per cabbage.  In some retail stores, it even exceeds 8,000 KRW.  Considering these circumstances and the challenges that citizens are facing, the government has announced its plans to introduce 2,200 tons of cabbage into the market.  Furthermore, they will offer a 50 percent discount on 1,000 tons of salt, a key ingredient in making kimchi.

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