Eating dinner conveniently without sacrificing a nutritional balance and the feeling of homemade cooking is not always easy. For some, the solution to this problem is meal kits, also called recipe boxes. A meal kit is generally a subscription-based food service that delivers pre-measured and partly prepared ingredients needed for a recipe of choice. Customers can choose from a variety of easy-to-follow recipes according to their dietary needs and preferences. The market for meal kits has grown considerably during the last years and is forecast to increase further.
Meal kit market in South Korea
Convenience foods as a substitute for dining out have attracted new customers, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and its entailed social distancing regulations. They gained so much popularity, that meal kits secured third place among the most often purchased convenience foods in 2021. The domestic meal kit provider Fresh Easy led the South Korean meal kit market. The company’s differentiating factor is to collaborate with famous restaurants and commercialize their meals into home-cooked meal kits. Fresh Easy has contracts with overseas suppliers, and in 2022, it acquired competitor, Tasty9, to secure its leading position in the market. Although MyChef was the first meal kit brand launched in South Korea, it could not yet catch up with the market leader. Still, the meal kit pioneer planned to go public by end of 2022.
What is important for South Korean meal kit users?
In the South Korean market, Korean cuisine was the most popular option, with most people who used meal kits having tried cooking a Korean dish with it. Especially popular menus were Korean soup and stew dishes. Convenience is one of the significant advantages of meal kits. Koreans have a high standard for convenience in everyday life, and meal kits are no exception. The adjustable portion sizes, the variety of recipes, the ease of use, the little amount of time needed for preparation, and the fast delivery times all meet such expectations. Additionally, the taste, arguably the most crucial factor when discussing food, scored high in terms of meal kit consumer satisfaction. Points of discontentment with the product included the high price and the use of single-use items. The latter seems harder to avoid in home-ready meals due to hygiene standards and ensuring that nothing will spoil during delivery.
As the delivery market has advanced into every aspect of shopping in South Korea and online grocery shopping experiences great popularity, the staggering growth and the interest in meal kits are unlikely to cease soon.
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