All you need for successful access to the Korean Market
Industry: Food and Beverage
Due to the lack of HMR options and high calories in South Korea leads to opportunities for international companies to expand and provide nutritional and healthier HMR food.
In South Korea, the Home Meal Replacement (HMR) market, including shelf-stable, chilled and frozen ready meals, expanded its popularity throughout 2016. Today, consumers purchase convenient ready meal products at a higher rate. Accordingly, manufacturers focus on developing diverse and high quality ready meals to satisfy both taste and convenience. According to the Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI) report, the value of Korean HMR sales increased by almost 61.9 percent in 2013. Furthermore, the rising decline in birthrate, more demanding work environments, and an increase in late marriage and single households have propelled the growth of the HMR market in Korea. By introducing a diverse meal selection of high quality products, the HMR industry has been able to expand its distribution channels including hypermarkets, convenience stores, and department stores.
The strong popularity of frozen ready meals, especially frozen fried rice with vegetables, has prompted major local convenience stores such as GS25 and CU to introduce their private-label lunch boxes and work in collaboration with famous chiefs and celebrities to promote rice-based ready meal menus. However, the South Korean HMR industry produces high calories of HMR products; therefore, there is a strong concern that the health quality of ingredients is lacking. Currently, gluten-free, low-sodium and restricted-fat options remain rare in the Korean HMR industry. On the other hand, according to the KREI, many developed countries like the U.S. and the U.K. are striving to develop more health-conscious HMR products.
Despite the lack of nutritional HMR product options, South Korea’s HMR market reached USD 1.7 billion, making the Korean market equivalent to that of the U.S. based on recent growth and market demand according to Ministry of Food and Drugy Safety (MFDS) in 2014. Due to the expansion and growth of the HMR market, the MFDS re-categorized the HMR industry into three groups in 2014: i) ready to eat, ii) ready to heat, and iii) ready to cook.
As South Korea’s HMR market expands, international companies could benefit by the increasing value and quality products being developed in the Korean market