Reflections on Seoul Food

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Seoul is always a joy to visit, whether it’s for business or leisure. With its bustling population of over fifty million, the food and beverage market is booming post-COVID-19 across all channels, whether its department stores and supermarkets, or restaurants and bars.

Seoul Food and Hotel (SFH) recently provided the opportunity to get first-hand experience on both product performance and shopper behaviour at leading retail outlets, together with four busy days at SFH interacting with interested distributors, manufacturers and retailers.

Store visits to SSG supermarket and Hyundai department store confirmed that they continue to set extremely high standards on merchandising and visual displays, especially across fruit and veg, meat, poultry and fish, as well as cheese and deli departments. There continues to be a growing interest in honey, with more emphasis being placed on creative presentations, supporting high retail prices. Significant nut displays were also observed, also creatively merchandised.

General grocery items covered a large percentage of imported lines from Japan, Australia, Europe and the USA, in particular condiments, spreads, oils, herbs and spices, mueslis and granola, however there were limited certified organic products on display, which can be attributed to Korean organic regulations. Health and wellness brands were also extremely well-supported and merchandised, as a response to post-COVID-19 lifestyle management. While kombucha products are still in their relative infancy, there appears to be a greater focus on shots and tonic products.

A store visit to E Mart, South Korea’s largest supermarket chain, highlighted the significantly larger proportion of products suited to meet everyday requirements, with limited imported lines. Homeplus is nevertheless an important distribution point to have, providing scale for the South Korean market.

As part of the Export Connect Market Development Director Service, Howard Hurwitz attended SFH on behalf of our client Nutworks. Within hours of opening, it soon became apparent that high-quality Australian macadamia nuts were on a host of importers shopping lists, over and above the pre-arranged one-on-one meetings. 

The interest from importers and manufacturers, both offline and online, was inspiring across the four days. We must add that the in-market support provided by both Austrade and Queensland Trade & Investment was outstanding, in terms of assisting with translations and business matching. Based on the level of interest during the show, together with post show communication, the interest levels of a handful of potential business partners remain extremely high, with the expectation that distribution agreements will be signed in the months ahead.

If you are interested in engaging a highly experienced and sales oriented export manager at a fraction of the cost of a full time employee, click here learn more about the Export Connect Market Development Director Service:

We hope you’ve found these insights on the South Korean market helpful. As always, if you’ve got any questions or want to discuss export opportunities for your company, feel free to drop us a line at Export Connect – we’d love to hear from you.