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Health functional food bestseller market share in South Korea 2019, by type

Korean red ginseng was the most popular product in the health functional foods market in South Korea in 2019. Health functional foods refers to specific products made by compacting elements that are beneficial to the human body into easily consumable packages. They are consumed for their promoted health benefits, such as improving eyesight, countering natural aging, and strengthening the immune system. Demand for such foods was expected to increase sharply in 2020, as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Popular health functional foods

Red ginseng products were the most popular health functional foods. Their sales value in 2019 exceeded over one trillion South Korean won. Red ginseng is made by steaming and drying ginseng for preservation and it is reddish in color. Sales of red ginseng products accounted for about 36 percent of the total, bolstering its marketing as a health supplement for all occasions. Another popular type of health functional food were probiotic products, with a sales value of over 459 billion won. A very common and well-known example is the Yakult drink.

Top health functional food producers

The leading companies producing health functional foods in South Korea in 2019 were the two plants of the Korea Ginseng Corporation, in Wonju and Buyeo. Together, they generated around 800 billion won in sales, several times greater than the pharmaceutical company Chong Kun Dang. This shows the immense popularity of Korean ginseng as a health functional food. In fourth place was Korea Yakult, with sales of around 170 billion won. Although it produces various beverages, Korea Yakult is perhaps best known for its Yakult, a popular probiotic drink originally invented in Japan but sold in various countries across Asia.

Distribution of health functional product sales in the South Korean market in 2019, by type

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Release date

August 2020


South Korea

Survey time period


Supplementary notes

* According to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, approved ingredients, unlike notified ingredients, are the type of ingredients that be used for meal or replace conventional food and are approved by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety of South Korea upon review applications from individual business holders.

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Statistics on "Health functional food in South Korea"

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