Market Information   >   Food News Clipping

Food News Clipping

April 19 - 25, 2024


FAS/Seoul Monitoring of Media Reporting on Agricultural Issues 

Today's Date: Friday, April 26,  2024

For Coverage:  April 19 ~ 25, 2024

Stabilizing Seaweed Supply
Summary:  The increased exports of seaweed have caused a seaweed shortage, leading to price hikes in gimbap and seasoned seaweed.  The government has been taking measures that include increasing domestic seaweed farms, financing seafood discount events, and considering financial support for seaweed farmers.  The goal is to stabilize supply and prevent financial burden on consumers.  Despite the efforts to reduce exports during shortages, the government aims to promote Korean seaweed products abroad.  Consequently, restaurant franchises and seaweed makers have raised prices, prompting government pressure to curb inflation.  Retailers are also urged to postpone planned price hikes to alleviate consumer burden.


Increased Prices of Imported Liquor
Summary:  Imported liquors in Korea are increasing in price due to the strengthening of the US dollar against the Korean won and rising logistics costs.  For example, for the first time since July 2022, a Chinese distilled liquor - Yantai Kaoliang - will see price hikes ranging from 1.7 to 6.3 percent.  Other liquors that are experiencing price hikes include Wild Turkey, Johnnie Walker and Jim Beam, among many others.  Various importers claim that the high exchange rate and the increase in operational costs are reasons for the price hikes.  Overall, the increased logistics costs and general business expenditures have caused the rise in several food and beverage prices.

World’s Top Chefs in One Place
The Nanro Foundation, led by chef Choi Jung-yoon, is hosting Nanro Insight, a global symposium on Korean food from April 29th to the 30th.  The event, titled “The Future of Gastronomy: Hansik,” will feature renowned chefs like Peruvian Virgilio Martinez and Spanish Oriol Castro, as well as industry experts discussing the elevation of Korean cuisine.  Inspired by gatherings of scholars during the late Joseon Kingdom, the Nanro Foundation has become a place for industry professionals to explore and develop Korean culinary culture.  Additionally, private events including the Nanro Heritage Tour will offer experiences with Korean fermentation culture.

What’s the Top Online Purchase?
Summary:  Food products emerged as the top category in online shopping transactions for consumers in South Korea last year, surpassing clothing and fashion items for the first time.  In a survey of 2,000 e-commerce platform users, 65.5% cited food as their most purchased item, attributed to the recent introduction of fast delivery services in open marketplaces and delivery apps.  Other popular categories included household supplies (46.7%), makeup (19.9%), and agro-fisheries products (17.9%).  On average, men spent 68,900 won ($50.28) and women 65,200 won on online shopping, with 34.3 percent of respondents shopping online more than twice a week.  The majority of respondents favored open marketplaces (89.4%) and delivery apps (87.8%), indicating a shift towards online shopping convenience.


Increasing Popularity of Turtle Chips
Summary:  Orion's Kkobuk chips are rapidly gaining traction in the U.S. market, specifically on the shelves of major retailers like Five Below and Miniso, as well as snack bars at corporate giants like Google and Netflix.  Due to their turtle shell shape, Kkobuk chips have seen a surge in demand among younger consumers, with sales expected to reach 20 billion won ($14.5 million) this year alone.  Currently, they have expanded from just 100 stores in 2019 to over 1,500 outlets across the U.S. and have plans on establishing a local production factory in the United States as annual sales approach $29.2 million.  Orion aims to continue capitalizing on the popularity of K-snacks while catering to local tastes to become a global snack leader.

More Rice in North America
Summary:  CJ CheilJedang's processed rice product is gaining popularity in North America, with sales reaching 160 billion won ($116 million) last year, a 21 percent increase from the previous year and double the figures for 2021.  This surge in popularity is attributed to the rising number of Korean restaurants abroad and the global appeal of Korean food, with processed rice being one of CJ CheilJedang's key global export items.  Entry into major distribution channels like Costco has facilitated significant growth, particularly for white rice, which constitutes over 90 percent of the company's processed rice exports.  North American consumers are attracted to the convenience and health benefits of white rice as a healthier carbohydrate alternative to other staples like bread or fried rice.  With over 95 percent of consumers expressing willingness to repurchase their products, CJ CheilJedang is committed to introducing new "K-processed rice" products to further penetrate the North American market.

Growing Global Coffee Chains
Summary:  Once seen as a challenging market for global F&B chains, Seoul is now thriving with several overseas franchises.
 Intelligentsia Coffee, originating from Chicago, opened its first international outpost in central Seoul and has largely benefitted from the locals’ social media buzz.  Similarly, a Canadian coffee chain - Tim Hortons - expanded rapidly, with plans to open 150 outlets over five years, stating that Korea's dynamic coffee culture is a key factor.  Due to Gangnam District’s high acceptance of foreign cultures and educational advancements, it has become highly favored by foreign brands where American chains like Popeyes and Shake Shack can be seen.  The success of these franchises is partly attributed to localization strategies, shown by Shake Shack's introduction of limited-edition burgers tailored to Korean preferences and partnerships with local food conglomerates like SPC Group that recreate and incorporate Korean flavors.

Country with the Third Highest Inflation
Summary:  South Korea's food inflation surged to 6.95% in February, ranking third highest among OECD member countries, behind Turkey and Iceland.  This rise can be attributed to global factors such as Russia's invasion of Ukraine, high energy prices, and severe drought.  Analysts associate the domestic food price increase with rising fruit prices, such as apples (88.2%+), prompting government measures like quota tariffs and expanded distribution of imported fruits at discounted rates.  International oil price fluctuations and a strong US dollar may further impact consumer prices, raising concerns about potential "second-round inflation."


Chocolate on the Rise
Summary:  Lotte Wellfood, Korea's largest chocolate manufacturer, is set to increase the prices of 17 chocolate snacks and ice creams by an average of 12 percent starting in May, due to a surge in cocoa prices as weather conditions in West Africa worsen.
 With the volatile weather conditions and cocoa diseases in major producing countries like Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire, cocoa prices have reached a record high.  Thus, price adjustments will be seen not only in items such as Pepero, Crunky, and ABC Chocolate but also frozen desserts.  Lotte Wellfood's move has prompted other confectionery giants like Orion and Haitai Confectionery to consider similar adjustments as well.


Falling Beer Imports
Summary:  Korea's beer imports experienced a notable decline of 20% within the first quarter compared to the previous year due to the significant drop in beer purchases from China following a viral video showing a man urinating into a tank at Tsingtao Brewery.  Imports from China fell by 62% to $4.78 million during the same period, while Japanese beer brands saw a surge in imports, more than doubling to $14.93 million.  This increase in Japanese beer imports reflects a turnaround from previous years, as the declining trade relations between Korea and Japan have improved.  On the other hand, concerns over the safety of Chinese food and beverage products have resurfaced by the viral incident, impacting consumer confidence and import trends.


Double the Food Assistance
Summary: Since joining the UN Food Assistance Convention in 2018, Korea has annually provided 50,000 tons of rice to up to six recipients, but this year Korea is significantly increasing its food aid contribution through the World Food Programme, doubling it to 100,000 tons and expanding the number of recipient countries to 11.  The additional countries receiving this aid were selected based on urgency and acceptance of Korean rice.  The increased aid is expected to sustain approximately 2.6 million vulnerable people for three months.  The Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Song Mi-ryung, emphasized Korea's transformation from a food aid recipient to a donor country, to expand both food aid and the K-Rice Belt Project.

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