Market Information   >   Food News Clipping

Food News Clipping

November 5 - 9, 2023


FAS/Seoul Monitoring of Media Reporting on Agricultural Issues 

Today's Date: Thursday,  November 9,  2023

For Coverage:  November 5 ~  9, 2023


Agricultural Research Institute Shares Agricultural and Rural Development Experiences with Government Officials from Developing Countries

Summary:  On November 5th, the International Agricultural Development Cooperation Center of the Korea Rural Economic Institute welcomed 6 agricultural officials and experts from Mongolia, Uganda and Tajikistan to participate in a mid-term training program for the Korean Agricultural Policy Experiences for Food Security (KAPEX).  This program will run until December 2.  During the program, participants will learn about Korea’s agricultural government experience via lectures, field trips, and country-specific research to help the participants strengthen their own ability to establish and implement agricultural policies. 


Increased Consumer Burden Due to the Increase in Soju Prices... Concerns over a Series of Increase in Alcohol Prices

Summary:  HiteJinro, a major company, is raising the prices of its primary products, Chamisul soju and Terra beer.  Since Koreans have a tendency of gathering this festive time of year to celebrate with friends and family, enjoying good food along with soju and beer, consumer spending is expected to increase. The price hike in soju may result in higher prices at many dining establishments, potentially reaching 7,000 KRW, which is above the usual range of 5,000 to 6,000 KRW.  As both consumers and producers face mounting pressure, as prices have risen consistently across many companies over the course of the year, the Korean government is making efforts to reduce the prices of alcoholic beverages by seemingly speeding up a liquor tax reform.


9 Processed Foods, including Bread, Milk, and Snacks, Designated a Government Representative for Close Management

The Government Will Manage the Price of Key Food Products by Designating Officials

Summary:  Consumer prices have seen a three-month consecutive increase, resulting in a total rise of 3 percent compared to the previous year.  With the cost of essential items like food on the rise and placing greater financial strain on people, the government is assigning specific individuals responsibility for managing the prices of key food products primarily focused on processed foods, including ramen, milk, coffee, bread, ice cream etc.  In the past, when the government was managing the price of food with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA), they usually dealt with fresh foods.  However, to stabilize the price of food more efficiently, they have decided to designate specific individuals for the processed foods too.  On November 9th there was a ‘Agricultural Products Supply Inspection’ meeting that was organized by a vice minister of MAFRA.  This meeting follows a November 2nd when there was ‘Emergency Price Briefing’ by the ministers of various ministries in Korea.  Through the meeting on the 9th, it was decided that 28 agricultural products including cabbage, onions, ginger, tomato etc. will be managed by designated individuals of MAFRA.  What is special this time is that they are especially focusing their attention on 9 processed foods that are included in 28 products such as bread, snack, coffee, ramen, ice cream, sugar, cooking oil, flour, and milk.  The deputy directors are designated for these foods and will continuously tracking how prices are changing and how the market is evolving.  In case of inappropriate pricing, they will address the issue promptly and ensure that tariff quotas are correctly applied to reduce prices.  Furthermore, MAFRA is actively engaging in discussions with food companies, dining establishments, and food supply companies, urging them to refrain from further price increases on the goods they offer to consumers.

Reviewing Tax-Base Sales Ratio… Domestic Distilled Spirits Industry is Looking Forward to It

Summary:  The Korean government is considering reforming the taxation of domestic distilled spirits like soju and whisky.  The domestic industry seems to be in support of these efforts, as they feel the current tax structure is unfavorable towards domestic products.  On November 8th, the Korea Customs Service and the Ministry of Economy and Finance announced their intention to explore the use of a base sales ratio in the tax calculation for domestic distilled spirits.  This change is expected to enable many distilled spirit producers to offer their products at more affordable prices, benefiting consumers.  The need for this reform arose following discussions during a parliamentary audit that highlighted the high taxes imposed on domestic distilled spirits.

This reform has been well received by many companies in the distilled spirit industry.  One of the firms in this sector pointed out the existing discrimination between domestic and imported products in terms of tax application.  This discrimination was exacerbated in an industry where marketing plays a significant role, leading to higher marketing costs.  Consequently, the application of a base sales ratio is seen as a crucial step in reducing this disparity between domestic and imported products.  It's important to note that there is no specific plan in place for implementing this reform yet.  The government is not providing further details at this stage, as extensive simulations and research are required before this agenda can become a reality.

Second LSD in Chungbuk Province… 374 Additional Examination in the Area

Summary:  On November 7th, it was reported that another farm in Choongju, located in Chungbuk province, has been affected by LSD (Lumpy Skin Disease).  This farm became infected despite the cows being vaccinated on November 3rd, though it's worth noting that the vaccine typically takes three weeks to provide full protection.  Consequently, the 13 cows on the farm are expected to be culled, and approximately 370 farms within a 10-kilometer radius of the infected farm will be subject to examination.  To stop the spread of the disease, movement of cows from the farm has been restricted, and the government is conducting epidemiological surveillance to trace the potential source and spread of the disease.  Significantly, this farm is only 20.5 kilometers away from the initial farm that was affected by LSD.

"Zero Beverage" Boosting Its Presence in the Market

Summary:  Zero sodas are expanding their market share in the beverage market.  Zero calories or zero sugar is gaining a popular reputation because there are increasing consumers considering health factors when buying beverage.  Also, these drinks are gaining popularity as they closely match the taste of regular counterparts while offering health benefits.  On the 6th, Lotte Chilsung reported a substantial increase in sales, reaching 209 billion KRW in the third quarter, surpassing last year's total sales of 189 billion KRW.  What is more significant is that zero sodas have experienced a remarkable 50 percent increase in sales compared to the previous year.

Lotte Chilsung entered the zero beverage industry in 2021 with products like Chilsung Cider Zero and Pepsi Zero.  They are now focusing on expanding their range of zero soda products, even discontinuing their beverage, which had been in production for over 50 years, to concentrate on the zero beverage market.  Other companies are also profiting from this trend, as consumers are increasingly drawn to the "Healthy Pleasure" trend.  These zero beverages are appealing because consumers can enjoy delicious sodas without worrying about calorie intake.  Recognizing this shift, many beverage companies are planning to expand their distribution networks to reach as many customers as possible.

Unaffordable Food Shopping Prices, Which Item has Risen the Most?

Summary:  Many people frequently share their recent purchases on social media, but nowadays, the focus has shifted from flaunting 'what' they bought to showcasing 'how much' they spent on food.  The increase in consumer prices has been quite dramatic.  According to the Korea Consumer Agency, 24 out of the 32 most popular processed foods have seen significant price hikes.  For households with children who enjoy ham products, the cost has surged by 37.7 percent for every 10g of ham compared to last October.  Similarly, other items like ketchup have risen by 36.5 percent, soybean paste by 29.6 percent, and sesame oil by 27.8 percent.  Overall, there has been a noticeable increase in prices for processed foods related to sauces, averaging around 15.3 percent.  This, in turn, has made it less appealing to cook at home, when the high cost of dining out encouraged eating at home.  However, it's important to note that not all food products have experienced price increases.  Some items have seen price decreases, such as a 6.5 percent drop in the price of coke, a 5.7 percent decrease in sausage prices, and a 3.7 percent reduction in cereal prices.  Nevertheless, these items are not essential components of Korean meals and are considered as non-essential alternatives that do not significantly impact daily food expenditures.



View List >

Agricultural Trade Office, U.S. Embassy - Seoul
Tel: 82-2-6951-6848 Fax: 82-2-720-7921