Although the People's Republic of China and Japan are the leading economic players in East Asia, which is the new economic center of attraction in the world, South Korea has a special place in the region with its strong economy. It is a crucial part of this region with its trade links, investment relations, supply chains and position in regional production networks.
South Korea, which has achieved a phenomenal success in the last century, attracts many countries today. South Korea, which regarded as one of the poorest countries in the world after the Korean War that took place in 1950-53 under the conditions of that period, entered a strong development process in the following years and became one of the leading players of the global economy within a short period of time. Today, South Korea is the tenth largest economy in the world with a size of 1,721 billion dollars, and is also the sixth largest exporting country in the world with an export of 605 billion dollars. South Korea is rapidly climbing up in both of the rankings.
South Korea, located in the Asia-Pacific region surrounded on three sides by the sea, has North Korea in the north, China in the west, Japan in the east, Taiwan in the south, and Russia in the northeast. South Korea has 25 ports, the largest of which are Busan, Donghae and Gunsan (Kunsan) ports. Although the increase in the population of South Korea continues, growth rate is observed to be quite low, as is the case in all developed countries, due to the increasing national income per capita. According to current data, the population of the country is 51,320,000.
Located in the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea has rapidly increased its economic size thanks to significant reform steps, particularly in the last 30 years, and has become a target market country with a high potential.
South Korea's financial system is one of the most developed and internationally connected systems in Asia. However, since the arable land of the country is only 16.58% of the total area, the country is dependent on imports in agricultural and food products. Rice is grown in a large proportion of arable land. Arable land is limited and the people working in agriculture are rather old. Agricultural lands are small and income generated from agriculture is lower than other sectors.
Exports of agricultural and food products to South Korea are constantly increasing. Processed food is regarded as one of the major markets of South Korea. Canned vegetables, tomato paste and dried fruits, which are an important market and have become a part of the food culture in recent years, are increasing their popularity in the market. The increase in the income level and the people getting used to Western tastes increase the demand for this area.
Urbanization and specialization in South Korea have led to an increase in the per capital income and living standards in the country. These developments caused a shift in food consumption habits, decrease in the share of rice, which used to have a great place in the South Korea's cuisine traditionally, and an increase in the consumption of meat, dairy products, fruits and bakery products. However, due to the resources being limited, agricultural production is insufficient to meet the changing and increasing latest demand. South Korean consumers prefer high-value, convenient, healthy and delicious products in food stores. Depending on the aging population, healthy nutrition has become a very popular agenda throughout the country. Organic and functional foods are gaining popularity, especially among health-conscious middle-aged and older consumers and young professionals.
ITALIAN INFLUENCE INCREASES PASTA CONSUMPTION
With the popularization of Italian cuisine in South Korea, consumers' interest in pasta has increased. The television series "Pasta" featured in 2010 caused a boom in pasta sales. As the pasta brands and ready-made pasta sauces in the market diversified, consumers started to cook pasta at home. Consequently, the recognition of pasta varieties such as spaghetti, macaroni, penne, linguini and lasagna has increased. China alone holds 58% of the market, it can be predicted that the brand value created by Italy and is due to the similarity with South Korea's taste.
Packaging is of great importance for South Korean consumers. Exporting companies should choose a packaging suitable for the market and with a design that will attract the attention. Although the vast majority of South Koreans can read English, products labeled in Korean language have a better chance in the market.
With the evolving and westernizing eating habits, bread and pastry products have started to enter the South Korean cuisine. Along with this, a need for wheat flour has also started to emerge. However, in recent years, wheat flour export has started to decrease in Korea, where the "well-being" trend has become more effective.
According to the latest figures published by the Statista Research Department, Paris Baguette ranks first among the most used bakery brands in South Korea as of June 2021. About 52 percent of the respondents stated that Paris Baguette is the bakery brand they visit the most.
The South Korean bakery and cereals market had a total revenue of $4,024 million in 2019 and represented a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.2% between 2015 and 2019.
Korean bakery chains
Bread and Rolls market in South Korea registered a positive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.00% during the period 2015 to 2020 with a sales value of KRW 1,622,745.60 Million in 2020, an increase of 3.36% over 2019. The market achieved its strongest performance in 2020, when it grew by 3.36% over its previous year and its weakest performance in 2018, when it increased by 2.87% over 2017.
An increasing number of Americans and Europeans are buying sweet-flavoured Korean bread for snacks, leading to the expansion of chains like Paris Baguette and Tous less Jours in foreign markets. The change is the result of an evolving landscape in South Korea’s food culture, led by South Korean bakeries in foreign markets as well as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
South Korean bread and baked goods such as sweet red-bean bread or kimchi croquettes come in many varieties due to the diverse ingredients used as fillings. Since they are consumed primarily as snacks, most of them are sweet and soft. South Korea’s leading bakeries are speeding up efforts to expand in foreign markets. Paris Baguette, which currently operates 429 stores across six countries including Singapore, Vietnam and France, has stores in New York’s consumption hotspots including Times Square and Upper West Side.
Another bakery franchise Tous Les Jours runs some 280 stores across six countries including the US and has been profitable for the last three years despite the pandemic. The bakery sells more than 300 items, which is two to three times more than its main competitors. Unlike the US or Europe where Korean bread is growing in popularity, South Korea is seeing increasing consumption of European bread, primarily as an accompaniment to meals.
Ever since the coronavirus outbreak, South Koreans are replacing rice with bread to spend less time making meals at home. Unlike Korean bread, European bread usually does not have fillings, and is consumed in Europe as part of meals instead of as a snack. Tous Les Jours saw a 25- to 30-per-cent increase in European bread sales last year.
Convenience stores are also joining the trend as more consumers are buying European bread at their neighbourhood convenience store instead of going to a bakery. 7-Eleven’s European bread sales jumped by 146 per cent last year from the previous year.
SOUTH KOREAN PASTA & NOODLES MARKET
The pasta & noodles market consists of the retail sale of dried pasta, dried & instant noodles, chilled pasta, chilled noodles, ambient pasta and ambient noodles.
The South Korean pasta & noodles market had total revenues of $2,204.3m in 2019, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.2% between 2015 and 2019. Market consumption volume increased with a CAGR of 2.2% between 2015 and 2019, to reach a total of 451.8 million kilograms in 2019. Favorable economic conditions and increasing consumer purchasing power are the primary factors supporting the growth of this market. Revenue in the Pasta segment amounts to US$2,224m in 2021. The market is expected to grow annually by 5.07% (CAGR 2021-2026).
In the Pasta segment, volume is expected to amount to 1,531.7mkg by 2026. The Pasta segment is expected to show a volume growth of 2.9% in 2022. The average volume per person in the Pasta segment is expected to amount to 25.4kg in 2021.
Dried & instant noodles is the largest category in both the value and volume terms in the South Korean pasta & noodles sector. Value-wise the South Korean pasta and noodles market generated total revenues of USD 2.12 billion in 2017 and to reach USD 2.6 billion in 2023. Volume-wise the South Korean pasta and noodles market registered 432.9 million kg in 2017 and to reach 493.2 million kg in 2023.
Hypermarkets & supermarkets are the largest distribution channel with a value share of 81%. Consumption of pasta & noodles is higher among males than females in South Korea. Increasing busy lifestyles due to longer working hours and large commute times imply their readiness to opt for foods which take less cooking time. Flexible packaging accounted for a share of 99.8% in the South Korean pasta & noodles sector.
BISCUIT MARKET IN SOUTH KOREA
Savory Biscuits market in South Korea registered a positive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.96% during the period 2014 to 2019 with a sales value of KRW 1,04,000.06 Million in 2019, an increase of 4.41% over 2018. The market achieved its strongest performance in 2019, when it grew by 4.41% over its previous year and its weakest performance in 2018, when it increased by 0.57% over 2017.