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South Korea retail reshapes in response to demand for convenience stores

Vegetables for sale at CU convenience store_photo BGF Retail
Photo: vegetables for sale at CU convenience store by BGF Retail

South Korea’s convenience stores have introduced new product lines and discounted prices to combat the perception of a lower-quality offering compared to larger stores, according to a report by the Korea Times. During the pandemic, consumers have increasingly turned to online shopping and nearby convenience stores rather than larger supermarkets. 

In response to this trend, BGF Retail and GS Retail have launched promotions for vegetables at CU and GS Fresh Mall, respectively. CU is BGF Retail’s convenience store brand and GS Fresh Mall is GS Retail’s online grocery store. BGF Retail had also streamlined its distribution process and worked directly with growers in order to cut prices. 

A BGF Retail official, speaking to the Korea Times, said: “Convenience stores have been offering various types of vegetables at reasonable prices and doing so has increased sales significantly. We will continue to provide convenience to our customers by introducing a greater variety of products according to their needs.” 


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Food Industry Technology Show Korea – New platform for food technology, processing and packaging

Food Industry Technology Show Korea – New platform for food technology, processing and packaging © Coex Co., Ltd
© Coex Co., Ltd


From 25 to 28 November 2020, the DLG (Deutsche Landwirtschafts-Gesellschaft – German Agricultural Society) will organise the Food Industry Technology Show Korea together with South Korea’s leading trade fair company Coex. The premiere of the new platform for food technology, processing and packaging will take place at the Coex Center in Seoul, South Korea. The new trade fair and conference format focuses on developments and offers international food technology and its relevance for the markets in Northern and Eastern Asia. Together with the parallel Coex Food Week, the established meeting place for the global food & beverage producers and dealers, the trade fair represents the entire value-added chain.

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Are South Koreans losing appetite for apples?

South Korea’s per capita apple consumption increased to 11.4 kilograms in 2015 from 7.5 kg in 2005, driven by the abundant apple crop (582,846 MT) and a growing public perception of apples as a healthy and nutritional fruit. However, since 2015, apple consumption has gradually decreased to 9.2 kilograms per capita due to increased competition with other imported fruits. In fact, between 2005 and 2015, South Korea’s fruit imports increased by 49% to 720,000 tons, following new FTAs with major fruit exporting countries such as Chile, the US, Australia, and New Zealand. 

As the ratio of small family (single or two family member households) increased steadily in recent years, food consumption trend also changed toward demand for more convenient and smaller packages of healthy and nutritional food products.

South Korea exports very few of its apples as domestic apple prices are more attractive to apple growers and demand remains strong. Currently, South Korean phytosanitary regulations do not allow fresh apple imports.

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South Korea’s consumers prefer fresh fruit

Korea’s fruit imports have increased steadily after implementing many free trade agreements (FTAs) since 2003.

In 2014, Korea’s fruit consumption per capita, including imported fresh oranges, increased to 66.5 kg due to consumer preferences for more fresh fruit in the diet. However, over the last 10 years the consumption has still been below the international recommended quantities. A sharp decline is noted in consumption of the locally produced ‘Singo’ pears, which were also exported to the U.S. in the past.

Korea’s fruit imports have increased steadily after implementing many free trade agreements (FTAs) since 2003. Its nine major fruit imports, including oranges and table grapes, increased by 4% (24,000 tons) to 615,680 tons during the first 10 months of 2015 compared to the same period in 2014.

In 2016, Korea is still imposing a 10% seasonal tariff on U.S. fresh oranges from March to August under the KORUS FTA; the tariff will be eliminated in 2018. In the marketing year 2015/16, fresh orange imports are expected to increase by 7.5 percent to 120,000 tons, a 9,000 ton increase on the previous crop year, mainly due to the end of the west coast port strike in the U.S. and improved quality for this year’s fruit. The U.S. is the major orange supplier to the Korean market with a 93% market share in the sales year 2014/15, followed by South Africa and Spain with 4% and 2% respectively.

This article appeared on page 18 in the News section of edition 141, Jan/Feb 2016, of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read that issue online here.

South Korea flag image: by various [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons