Revenues for the food and beverage market in South Korea is expected to reach $8,747 million in 2021, showing an annual growth rate of 12.62%. Over 29,000 food processing companies generated over $66 billion in sales in 2018, an increase of 4% from 2017. The South Korean food and beverage processing industry manufactures a wide variety of products, and as such it imports a wide range of basic commodities like wheat, soyabean, vegetable oils and fruit juice concentrates, as well as food additives like flavours and colouring agents, with the United States being the leading supplier of these imports.

Reflecting world trends in food consumption, the South Korean consumer shows an increase in single person households (currently around 30% of households are single person), with an increase in women's participation in the workforce. Convenience and value for money are key for consumers, as they seek healthier and higher quality food options.

The home meal replacement (HMR) market has been growing for 10 years in South Korea, and is estimated to have reached $3 billion in 2018, having doubled in size in 3 years. With the increase in single person households, small portion HMR products have seen rapid growth, alongside complete HMR products for larger households.

Companies recruiting for growth in South Korean food and beverage sectors

The instant rice brand 'Hat Ban' accounted for 70% of the instant rice market in 2017. The parent company CK Cheil Jedang acquired U.S. frozen food company Schwan's Co in 2018, and in doing so bought one of the largest global food companies in the pizza, pie and Asian appetiser market. The aim for CK Cheil Jedang is to expand it's share of the North American processed food market. The company has invested $176 million for HMR research and development recently, and has invested $476 million to build a manufacturing plant in Jincheon. Hot on their heels, other food processing companies like Ottogi and Dongwon F&B are investing in their own HMR brands, with expansions in processing lines and new manufacturing plants.

A vitality boost to five South Korean food sectors

The South Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA), highlighted ready to eat/convenience foods, environmentally friendly foods, export-oriented food products, customised and speciality foods and functional foods as targets to give a 'vitality boost' to as part of it's 2030 target to double the value of the food and beverage sector.

The aim is to discover and nurture promising fields with a high potential to develop innovative industrial ecosystems, ensuring that a strong food industry leads the national economy. As noted before, the domestic convenience food market has increased with the rise of single-person and dual income households; the average annual growth rate in this sector alone is 11.8%. Efforts will be made by MAFRA to support R&D for premium product development, in what it terms as the 'next generation' convenience foods market.

Export oriented foods are to be promoted on the back of the current global popularity of the Korean entertainment industry (the Korean Wave), as potential growth has been identified in existing markets such as China, Japan and the United States, but also in new markets like Russia, Mongolia and Indonesia, the largest halal market.

Environmentally friendly foods will have special focus, with areas like eco-friendly packaging and organic foods receiving special attention.

Recruitment specialists for the South Korean food and beverage industries

The Food and Beverage division of Peak can bring specialists in all areas of the industry to your business. The main categories we recruit for are: beverage, priobiotics and nutrition, flavours and natural extracts, ingredients, diary, bakery, confectionery, seasonings, snacks and alternative proteins. Through being a specialist within the Food and Agriculture industries, it enables close relationships to be built with aspirational clients as well as creating a talent pool of the strongest candidates in the industry, with long-standing industry relationships at our core.