Market Information   >   Food News Clipping

Food News Clipping

February 26 - March 7, 2024


FAS/Seoul Monitoring of Media Reporting on Agricultural Issues 

Today's Date: Friday 8,  2024

For Coverage:  February 26 ~  March 7, 2024

A Blast from the Past

Summary:  Several major Korean food companies have begun to re-release their long-lasting products with the hit designs from the 70s.  During Korean New Year, Seollal, Lotte Wellfood released a giftset product with the packaging of the company's original "smiling sun" logo filled with all sorts of retro packaged snacks from the 70s and 80s.  The instant popularity among not only older consumers but also interested teens and 20-year-olds, caused a train of retro-themed campaigns.  These campaigns allowed consumers to reminisce about the old times, bringing back memories of joy as well as the other companies such as Ottogi and Nongshim to dig into their archives and bring back products with their past designs, all selling out almost instantaneously.

Continued Inflation of Fruit
Summary:  Due to the combination of South Korea's inflation of over 3 percent in February and last year's poor harvest of apples and pears, the high prices for fresh fruit continue to persist.  The prices of fresh fruit are the highest they have been in more than 32 years by 41.2% in February.  In order to address these concerns, the government has decided to stabilize its prices by allowing large retailers to directly import greater quantities of fruits such as pineapples, mangos and oranges.  In doing so, 300,000 tons of imported fruits from the tariff reduction can be supplied.  The Ministry also plans to invest 60 billion Korean won ($45 million) in government discounts implemented on domestically grown apples and pears while further reducing the tariffs on three other imported fruits: mandarin, durian and pineapple juice.  The government is continuously looking for other ways to stabilize the prices of various agricultural products and petroleum as the prices of these have been surging as well.

The Dangers of Shellfish

Summary:  The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety is expected to conduct an inspection on shellfish (e.g. mussels, clams, sea crabs) due to its potentially hazardous health effects.  Around 490 cases of domestically produced shellfish are being collected for inspection to check that they comply with the shellfish toxin standards.  The Ministry is currently advising individuals to be careful with the consumption of shellfish as these toxins are difficult to remove and can cause breathing difficulties.  Any seafood products that fail to pass the inspection will be prohibited from distribution or sale.

A Feast of French Food
Summary:  A well-renowned French frozen food brand - Picard - has entered the Korean market through Lotte Mart.  Products such as butter croissants, truffle tagliatelle pasta and frozen potatoes have been made available in select Lotte Mart stores.  Lotte Mart emphasizes how by directly sourcing from the Picard suppliers, the prices will be kept at an affordable range and plans on offering more traditionally French items like escargot and ratatouille to fit the changing taste preferences of Korean consumers towards Western cuisine.  This single frozen food brand now holds around 20 percent market share in the French frozen food distribution sector and continues to expand its sales locations.

Meat Over Rice
Summary:  According to the Korea Rural Economic Institute, the annual per capita consumption of pork, beef and chicken has exceeded 60 kilograms, surpassing the consumption of rice.  The consumption of rice, on the other hand, continues to decline from 93.6 kilograms per capita in 2000 to 59.2 kilograms in 2019.  The per capita consumption of meat is expected to grow to about 65.4 kilograms in 2033, especially in pork as it is relatively inexpensive, the highest preference and is commonly used in a majority of Korean traditional dishes.

Ramyeon Exports Reach Record High (Again!)
Summary:  After the cost-of-living crisis during the pandemic, the global demand for instant prepackaged noodles within the past couple of years has significantly increased.  Even middle-class consumers, where noodle consumption was not as common before, have turned to packaged noodles due to their convenience and affordability.  Consequently, exports of Korean instant noodles have increased by 24.4 percent, totaling $952 million in 2023.  The export volume has also doubled from 137,000 tons in 2019 to the highest recorded volume of 244,000 tons in 2023, especially in China followed by the United States and the Netherlands.  Exports of packaged ramyeon have continued to grow even further as the popularity in Korean lifestyle, content and food has risen. The Korea Customs Service predicts that by 2024, ramyeon exports will surpass $1 billion.

The Suspension of Carbonated Water
Summary:  Many of Korea's major retailers, hotels and coffee chains have suspended the sale of Perrier-branded sparkling products due to the usage of a banned treatment process of water.  Last month, Perrier purified the water used in their products with ultraviolet light and active carbon filters, which is a violation of French regulations as this process is only used on tap water.  With many supermarkets and convenience store chains recalling all Perrier products, Korea's Ministry of Food and Drug Safety is currently gathering more information on the health risks associated with the purification process that violates the EU's directive.

Breakfast Only For 1,000 Won?
Summary:  The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs will be funding 186 universities a total of 4,085 billion won to use for a 1,000 won ($0.75) breakfast program.  The government funding not only will universities be able to offer their students breakfast at an affordable price to aid those in need of financial assistance, but also increase the currently declining rice consumption.  With its visible success last year, the government has nearly doubled its subsidy per meal (94%+) and selected 42 more universities to be part of the program.  The students will pay 1,000 won while the government offers a 2,000 won subsidy with the rest being covered by the selected universities. 

CJ Reaches a Record High in Cooked Rice
Summary:  CJ CheilJedang's cooked rice product line, Hetbahn, recorded its highest annual sales of 850.3 billion won ($639 million) in 2023.  Their overseas sales increased by 21 percent while their domestic e-commerce platforms increased by 17 percent, selling over 39.1 billion won worth of Hetbahn products.  CJ was able to achieve this growth through the promotion of "wellness" and products such as a low-calorie konjac Hetbahn by catering to consumer's demand for healthier food options.  CJ plans on diversifying its Hetbahn product line with other ingredients that are also nutritious.

BBQ Chicken #1
Summary:  Taste of Home, a well-renowned American media brand specializing in food, ranked BBQ Chicken as the best fast-food chicken in the United States.  Despite other fried chicken chains such as KFC and Chick-fil-A possessing a larger market share, after sampling fried chicken from the largest fast-food chicken chains, BBQ Chicken came out first in a ranking of wing products from 10 renowned chicken brands due to its quality, including a subtle spicy and sweet taste, richness of the meat, and crispiness.


Counterfeit Soju on the Loose  Summary:  The increase in popularity of Korean culture, especially in Southeast Asian countries, has caused soju exports to reach over $114.1 million in 2023 (8.7%+) for the first time in a decade.  However, many of these countries have been imitating Korean soju bottles and selling them 30% cheaper than the original.  Due to the low cost of living, Korean soju is perceived as a premium liquor thus, local liquor companies have been producing cheaper alternatives to mimic soju.  These "counterfeit" soju makers have also begun exporting to other countries, potentially damaging South Korea's soju market.  To address this problem, the South Korean liquor industry in conjunction with the National Tax Service is planning on implementing a Korean soju certification mark to authenticate its products.

Must-buy Items: Strawberries and Banana Milk

Summary:  Several Korean products, specifically strawberries, banana milk, almonds snacks (HBAF) and ramyun, have been immensely growing in popularity amongst foreign tourists and Southeast Asian countries.  In fact, Korea's strawberry exports have increased by 30.6 percent from $54.44 million in 2019 to $71.08 million in 2023.  Korean food items such as these have become highly sought out products and are more expensive overseas, demonstrating how the exports of K-food have attracted tourism and increased its demand from all over the world.  The global popularity of K-food and the Korean lifestyle is expected to rise even further, allowing for greater opportunities to export more products and share South Korean culture.

View List >

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