‘Vegan’ claims are trending in South Korea as new plant-based innovations hit the market, says GlobalData

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Vegan and vegetarian claims are becoming more important than ever in South Korea, leading to a vegan boom in new innovations that cater to this niche dietary requirement, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

According to GlobalData’s 2021 Q1 Consumer Survey, 35% of South Koreans are somewhat or extremely likely to opt for meat or seafood plant-based alternatives and 39% said the same about egg or dairy plant-based alternatives. Notably, South Korean women show a higher receptiveness for vegan claims.

Lihong Zheng, Innovation Researcher at GlobalData, comments: “Since food products with vegan claims are proving very popular in South Korea, major South Korean food brands have launched vegan products to meet demand. Some notable examples include Pulmuone’s launch of a vegan kimchi that is free from jeotgal (a salted seafood), as well as Lotte Food’s sriracha plant-based burger. Ottogi has also released a vegan instant noodle. These new launches are often either ready-to-eat or part of the instant food category, offering alternatives for vegan consumers in South Korea, who would otherwise have to make their own due to a lack of access to vegan food in the Korean market.”

Interestingly, plant-based dairy alternatives such as soymilk have a much larger market share than meat substitutes. The total value of meat substitutes is forecast at US$17.4m in 2020, as opposed to soy milk and drinks which values US$344m. GlobalData’s survey highlights consumers are more willing to adopt dairy alternatives.

Zheng adds: “This is likely due to both lactose-intolerance and a shift in consumer perception about the importance of dairy in the daily diet. Therefore, vegan-friendly yogurt and ice creams are taking up a bigger market share than meat substitutes. Dashin’s gelato ice cream has even swapped traditional milk for soy milk.”

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