After MERS, The Korean Food Scene Heats Up
by Daniel Gray
The MERS incident has not been kind to Korea. It has affected the tourism industry which has experienced more than 100,000 cancelations and it has hurt local businesses as most people have canceled social excursions. For example the Seoul Grand Park which normal has crowds of 79,000 over a weekend has been only averaging 35,000 (Korea Times: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2015/06/116_179972.html). With no new cases in the last 2 weeks, life is beginning to return to normalcy. Restaurants, bars and cafes are hoping that they will be able to recover their business.
Bars and cafes are looking for the next hit coffee drink and many think it is a tall, frosty, milky pint of nitrogen coffee. Startup Bru-works was one of the first to the market, but big players such as the SPC Group which owns the successful Paris Baguette business is testing out the coffee at their downtown location. Other small cafes are also testing out this concept concurrently. The equipment needed for this: nitrogen gas tanks, beer taps and keg refrigerators makes it difficult for regular cafes but it could be a bridge drink that could turn beer pubs into cafes and cafes into beer pubs.
Nitrogen Coffee: http://www.bru.works/
Koreans are in love with bubbly water as the market has grown from about 10 million dollars in 2011 to 40 million in 2014. Companies like Sodastream are having success as they sell home units which cost 100-200 usd per unit. They are selling syrups with the units and giving recipe books. The main attraction for Korean consumers is how it is healthy, the low price compared to buying bottles and the lack of plastic recycling waste.
Carbonated Water Sales: http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=3002576
Chimaek: Fried Chicken and Beer = old, New is Pimaek= Pizza and Beer
For years the summer time combination has been fried chicken and beer but this year the trend is pizza and beer. While the high-end pizza places will opt for stone ovens, most small places will use conveyor type ovens. Bars are being forced to make room for these new ovens so they can maintain their beer sales. A popular oven for home and businesses has been the Dongyang Magic which is small and it has steam, convection, air frying and more. Koreans tend to gravitate towards purchases that are multi-purpose, what they call “multi-player” units.
Twin Cone Ice Cream
Naturr a leading ice cream brand is releasing a cone that allows for two separate scoops of ice cream for only 3 usd. The styling, marketing, and the price will make it a hit for the rest of the summer and I think that it will bring about many, many imitators.
Twin Cone: http://news.mt.co.kr/mtview.php?no=2015072010190843351&type=2&sec=industry&pDepth2=Itotal