Plant-based food products have yet to catch on in solidly meat-eating Korea, but producers here are nonetheless betting on the global vegan fad.
Globally, the market for plant-based food products grew 28 percent from W20.7 trillion in 2016 to W26.4 trillion in 2020, according to market researcher Euromonitor (US$1=W1,313). The Korean market is worth only W655.4 billion but has a lot of growth potential in the vegan market.
CJ Cheiljedang expects to generate 70 percent of sales of such products from abroad. Late last year, the company launched a brand dedicated solely to fresh organic produce and healthy groceries called PlanTable for exports to 20 countries, including the U.S., Japan, Australia and Singapore.
Currently only 30 percent of revenues come from overseas, but the company built a factory in Incheon last year capable of producing 1,000 tons of such products annually in hopes of expanding exports.
It also set aside around W10 billion to invest in start-ups specializing in vegan food. Last year CJ invested in Miyoko's Creamery of the U.S., which manufactures dairy-free "cheese" and "butter." This year, CJ invested in Indonesian start-up Green Rebel to sell halal products in Southeast Asia.
Retailers are bolstering similar businesses. Shinsegae Food introduced fake meat in July of last year and opened a dedicated outlet, The Better, in Gangnam this month.
Instant-noodle giant Nongshim and plant-based food maker Pulmuone both opened vegan restaurants in May called Forest Kitchen and Plantude.