SEOUL, Jan. 27 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s leading food manufacturers and retailers have set their sights on developing indigenous meal kits to dominate the booming, highly competitive market, industry sources said Monday.
A meal kit contains all the ingredients and directions needed for consumers to cook a meal.
According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Korea Agro-Fisheries and Food Trade Corporation, the local market for meal kits came to 20 billion won (US$17 million) in 2018.
The market is expected to skyrocket to 700 billion won in five years, according to the data, mainly on the back of the growing number of people living alone who do not have time for grocery shopping and want to avoid buying large quantities of ingredients.
CJ Cheiljedang Corp., the country’s leading food manufacturer, launched its own brand, Cookit, by joining hands with star chefs.
Cookit currently comprises 60 products, including Korean, Japanese, and Italian dishes, CJ Cheiljedang said, adding that it aims to increase the number to about 200 in two years.
The company said it currently receives around 2,000 orders every day and aims to hit 100 billion won in sales in the next three years.
E-mart Inc., the country’s largest hypermarket chain, recently recruited five chefs with experience of working at five-star hotels for its Peacock packaged foods brand.
The latest line-up includes various kinds of meal kits such as steak with red wine sauce, with a price tag of around 12,000 won, E-mart said.
Another leading player, Korea Yakult Co., recently recruited two star chefs — Nam Seong-ryeol and Cheong Ji-sun — so customers can enjoy similar dishes for its meal kit brand, EatsOn.
Its seven products allow customers to cook meals that were previously exclusive at the chefs’ restaurants, such as Nam’s signature spicy pork with red pepper paste.
Other rivals include GS Retail Co.’s Simply Cook, Hyundai Department Store’s Chef Box and Gourmet 494 from Hanwha Galleria.