Retail in Asia


Korean businesses are investing in vegan food products

In response to the growing vegan population of 180 million people worldwide, South Korean food companies are expanding their plant-based menu items and restaurants.

South Korea’s leading instant noodle maker Nongshim has parterned with vegan restaurant Doosoogobang to launch eight types of plant-based “cup rice” (rice bowls with toppings) and porridge.

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In their new vegan range the typical cup rice topping of spicy meat is replaced with namul (seasoned vegetables), mushrooms, and dried radish leaves. Other new dishes include red bean, black sesame, and soybean paste rice porridge.

During the Plant-Based World Expo, Shinsegae Food presented its latest vegan products including canned ham, meatballs, patties, and cold cut meats. This has inspired the development of even more plant-based meat products in the region. Better Foods, a wholly owned subsidiary of the company, plans to establish the global infrastructure needed to produce plant-based meat products by early next year. The company has also pledged to invest USD 10 million in further development projects.

By 2025, CJ CheilJedang intends to sell KRW 200 billion (USD 151.9 million) worth of plant-based meat products overseas and domestically. Its vegan brand Plantable offers dumplings, meatballs, tteokgalbi (beef patties) and bulgogi rice balls.

Source: Shinsegae Food

South Korean fine dining restaurants are also participating in the incorporation of vegan and plant-based foods into their menus. One example is Forest Kitchen, which first opened its doors in May. The vegan fine dining restaurant offers a variety of meat-free lunch and dinner courses made from eggplant, seaweed, buckwheat, cucumber and other vegetables.

Pulmuone, a rival company, unveiled its vegan restaurant Plantude in the same month, including plant-based katsu, lasagna, bibimbap, bulgogi, and tofu karaage.

“Compared to other countries, the South Korean vegan market is relatively small, but it is starting to show considerable growth potential driven by those who are interested in animal welfare, a healthy lifestyle and the environment” said Cho Mi-sook, Professor of Food and Nutrition at the Ewha Womans University.

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By 2025, market tracker Euromonitor Korea expects the vegan food market to grow to KRW 18.1 billion.