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Food News Clipping

January 22 - 26, 2024


FAS/Seoul Monitoring of Media Reporting on Agricultural Issues 

Today's Date: Friday,  January 26,  2024

For Coverage:  January  22 ~  26, 2024

Soju No Longer Sought-After Tipple of Koreans in Economic Slumps
Summary:  Soju, an inexpensive distilled alcoholic beverage in Korea, has been a go-to drink for many Koreans during economic downturns as a way to cope with their troubles.  However, this pattern closely connecting soju and economic downturns seems to be changing.  One reason for this is because of a pandemic-induced shift in workplace culture, where employees are avoiding socializing for drinks after work.  Furthermore, a 360-milliliter bottle of soju is priced as high as 6,000 KRW ($4.5 USD) at restaurants in Seoul.  In addition, Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation (aT) analyzed a new drinking trend among young consumers, which is a growing preference for hard liquor such as whisky, highball, etc., is contributing to the decline in soju sales.

KREI Forecast the Amount of Agricultural Production This Year will Reach 59.5 Trillion KRW and Farm Income Per Household 49.7 Million KRW
Summary:  Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI) announced that it held “Agricultural Outlook 2024” at the Seoul Dragon City Hotel on January 25th, with the participation of 1,600 agricultural officials, including Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Song, Mi Ryeong.  According to the presentation, KREI forecasted that agricultural production in 2024 will amount to 59.5 trillion KRW ($44.5 billion USD), a 0.6% increase compared to the previous year.  Farm income per household is expected to increase by 2.8% to 49.7 million KRW ($37.2 thousand USD) while the farm household population this year will decline by 1.1% to 2,118,000 people.  By items, production of the six major fruits, such as apples, pears and peaches, is forecast to increase 12% to 1.8 million tons year on year and production of the eight major garden fruits, such as watermelon, cucumber and tomato, is also expected to increase 2% to 1.97 million tons.  Rice prices in the first half of this year are expected to go up compared to the same period last year.  Among livestock products, the wholesale price of Korean beef (Hanwoo) is expected to decrease 3.3% and the price of chicken will also fall 6.6% from last year.

Cumulative Sales of ‘FiLite’, Hite Jinro’s Cheap Beer, Exceed 2 Billion Cans
Summary:  Hite Jinro announced on January 25th that cumulative sales of ‘FiLite’ have exceeded 2 billion cans since its launch in 2017.  FiLite is leading a trend in the liquor market with competitive advantages such as its cheap price and the use of 100% domestic barley and has established itself in the domestic mainstream liquor market by exceeding sales of 200 million cans in 12 months since its release and 1 billion cans in 41 months.  Hite Jinro plans to continue to pay attention to changes in consumer needs and trends to be able to introduce a variety of product lines.

Nongshim’s ‘Shin Ramen’ Recorded the Highest Sales of 1.2 Trillion Korean Won Last Year
Summary:  Domestic and overseas sales of Nongshim’s Shin Ramen reached 1.21 trillion KRW ($905.8 million), a 14% increase from the previous year, which amounted to 1.66 billion units.  Shin Ramen sales in the United States increased by 19%, accounting for half of the increase in its overseas sales.  The sales in Japan, Australia and Vietnam went up by 19%, 26% and 58% respectively compared to a year ago.  Nongshim plans to continue to accelerate its efforts to target overseas markets, focusing on the United States, by expanding its lineup in consideration of overseas consumer preferences.

aT, Maritime Federation and Maritime and Fisheries Industry Development Agreement

Summary:  On January 24th, Korea Agro-Fisheries and Food Trade Corporation (aT) signed a business agreement with the Korea Maritime federation for the development of the marine and fisheries industry and the spread of low-carbon eating habits.  The objectives of this agreement are to 1) spread the promotion of low-carbon eating habits in the marine sector, 2) develop policies and activities to create a sustainable marine environment and 3) exchange institutional and policy support to develop Korea’s fisheries industry and establish a stable supply chain.

Whiskey Sales at HomePlus Increased by 27 Percent with the Highball Craze in Korea
Summary:  According to HomePlus on January 22nd, the total whiskey sales last year increased 27% compared to the previous year.  Sales of the cost-effective whiskeys between 10,000 - 50,000 KRW (around between $7.5 - $37.5) out of the total whiskey sales increased by 38% with the highball craze, part of the Mixology trend, a combination of the words “mix” and “technology”.  The Glen Stag Scotch Whiskey (700ml), a representative one of the most popular whiskeys at HomePlus, which costs about 10,000 KRW (about $7.5) ranked first in whiskey sales exceeding cumulative sales of 200,000 bottles.  A HomePlus official said that these strong sales of cost-effective whiskeys attributes to the spread of the highball craze in younger generations in Korea.  Homeplus has been operating two whiskey-specialized zones called “Whiskey Library” at its nine Mega Food Market stores and “Mixology Zone” at its six branch stores since last year.

Korea’s Exports of Agricultural and Fishery Products in 2023 Reached a Record High of $12.02 Billion
Summary:  According to preliminary figures from the Korean government, total exports of agricultural and fishery products last year reached a record high of $12.02 billion, a 0.5% increase from the previous year.  Out of the total exports, agricultural and livestock product exports increased by 2.3% to $9.03 billion, while seafood exports decreased by 4.6% to $3 billion.  By export items, processed foods such as ramen ($952.4 million, 24.4%+), confectionery ($659.1 million, 6%+), beverages ($572.4 million, 11.5%+) and processed rice foods ($216.3 million, 18.9%+) showed strong growth.  Additionally, traditional foods such as kimchi ($155.6 million, 10.5%+) and sauces ($111 million, 12.7%+) showed a marked increase.  Seaweed exports, which is the main item of fishery products, exceeded one trillion KRW ($791.5 million, 22.2%+) for the first time.

(Table: Tentative actual exports of agricultural and fishery products by Korea’s primary markets)


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