Market Information   >   Food News Clipping

Food News Clipping

May 3 - 9, 2024


FAS/Seoul Monitoring of Media Reporting on Agricultural Issues 

Today's Date: Friday, May 10,  2024

For Coverage:  May 3 ~ 9, 2024

The Government’s New Task Force

Summary:  The government launched a task force to oversee the prices and supplies of fresh food and everyday items, aiming to address the continued inflation concerns.  This initiative responds to high inflation pressures driven by factors like increased fruit prices and energy costs amid global oil price volatility and adverse weather conditions.  This task force will monitor retail prices and implement measures to reform logistics in addition to collaborating with relevant ministries to stabilize prices.  Measures include reducing tariffs on selected fruit and vegetable imports and increasing government reserves of farm produce.  Regulatory revisions will also apply quota tariffs to certain items to stabilize prices and ensure steady supply and demand.


Bitcoin Meal Boxes
Summary:  Emart24, a Korean convenience store chain, has announced a partnership with local cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb to sell the "bitcoin meal box" by the end of this month.  Priced at 5,900 won ($4.3), the meal box includes a promotional offer where customers can receive 10,000 won worth of bitcoin by entering a coupon number in the Bithumb app, with an additional 20,000 won worth of bitcoin available for those who generate a NH Nonghyup bank account for bitcoin transactions.  Emart24, affiliated with Shinsegae Group, aims to sell 30,000 of these meal boxes by May 31st.

Caffeine Warning Signs
Summary:  The government, in collaboration with various ministries and provinces, has announced a comprehensive food safety plan for children in 2024.  This plan includes expanding warning labels for high-caffeine beverages in convenience stores from 695 to 1,000 locations and providing education on hygiene and nutrition to children's soup kitchens.  Additionally, an increased budget of 655 billion won will fund these initiatives.  The Ministry of Public Administration and Security will oversee progress and ensure the implementation of the food safety plan, including system improvements and budget execution, on a semi-annual basis.


No More “Secret” Price Increases
Summary:  The Fair Trade Commission announced a revision to its consumer trade practices, effective from August 3rd, targeting businesses reducing product capacity without consumer notification.  This move aims to prevent price increases which are usually disguised by unchanged packaging, ensuring consumers are informed about any changes in volume.  Manufacturers must notify consumers of capacity reductions through packaging labels, website postings, or in-store displays for three months post-change.  Failure to comply may result in fines. Exceptions will apply if price adjustments accompany capacity changes or if the change rate is below 5%.  Guidelines will be provided for businesses to understand and implement the revisions, with enforcement beginning on August 3, allowing a three-month preparation period for businesses.

Bibimbap Ready-to-Eat
Summary:  Dongwon F&B, a leading canned tuna producer and major food company in Korea, has unveiled a new line of ready-meal bibimbap flavors under its premium food brand Yangban, aiming to tap into the growing demand for pre-cooked meals both domestically and internationally.  The new products feature three variations of steamed rice with toppings, including bulgogi, tuna and kimchi, and jjajang (black bean sauce), packaged in pouches and plastic bowls for easy microwaving.  With a cooking time of just two and a half minutes, these bibimbap meals offer a convenient option for consumers seeking authentic Korean cuisine on the go.  Dongwon plans to market and export these products, incorporating both Korean and English text on the packaging, to appeal to global consumers.  Emphasizing quality and convenience, Dongwon aims to lead the global home meal replacement (HMR) market with innovative offerings that cater to evolving consumer lifestyles.

Zero Sugar? Zero Calories?
Summary:  A survey conducted by the Korea Consumer Agency revealed that the labeling of “zero sugar” and “zero calories” on certain foods, like soju and non-alcoholic beer, may be misleading.  Despite being labeled as zero sugar, zero-sugar soju was found to have a similar sugar content to ordinary soju.  Similarly, the “0.0” mark on non-alcoholic beer could mislead consumers into assuming it's alcohol-free. While zero-calorie beverages showed significant reductions in calories and sugar compared to regular drinks, consumer expectations regarding zero-sugar soju's calorie content did not align with reality.  Many consumers were unaware of the distinction between “non-alcoholic” and “alcohol-free,” and confusion surrounding the meaning of "0.0" on non-alcoholic beer labels.  Most consumers cited health management as the primary reason for purchasing zero-food products, but concerns lingered regarding product information and taste.  The Consumer Affairs Agency recommended improving zero-food labeling and discussing measures with relevant authorities.


The World’s Favorite Ramen
Summary:  Samyang Foods' shares surged to an all-time high, closing at 302,500 won ($218.30), driven by the global popularity of Buldak ramen.  This spike is mainly attributed to the heightened sales of Buldak ramen and related items worldwide, notably in the United States, closing the market capitalization gap with their rival - Nongshim.  Analysts forecast its continuous growth, especially with the completion of its second plant in Miryang by June 2025.  Notably, the company's 2023 operating profit surged by 80%, reaching 154.8 billion won, while revenue soared to 1.1 trillion won from 833.2 billion won.  Buldak Carbonara ramen, in particular, has captivated consumers globally, with endorsements from celebrities like Cardi B contributing to its scarcity.

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