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Foodservice industry in South Korea - Statistics & Facts

Among the four “tiger economies”, the value of the South Korean foodservice sector was by far the highest as of 2018. South Korea is home to a lively foodservice industry, where people like to eat out or simply order food online to be delivered straight to their homes. The nation’s growing GDP and high urbanization rate are often mentioned as the basis for the country’s thriving foodservice industry.

What is the dining culture like in South Korea?

South Koreans are known to love to dine out. Especially in Seoul, the price of the ingredients to cook a meal at home are often not that much higher than just going to a restaurant, getting takeout, or ordering food delivery. According to survey results, households in South Korea showed a tendency to spend more on eating out as their income level increased; a trend that held true for food delivery and takeout consumption as well. Such figures do not include the costs of dining out with friends, so the actual household expenditure is expected to be even higher when this is factored in. Additionally, the country’s working culture often includes work dinners, which happen regularly, thus adding even more value to the industry.

Who are the major players in South Korea's foodservice industry?

As of 2017, fast food giant McDonald’s recorded a market share of 1.2 percent based on value sales, making it the leading foodservice company in South Korea. Nevertheless, South Korea’s foodservice market is made up mostly by small- to medium-sized, family-owned businesses and in terms of sales, independent operators lead the market. Sales revenue of independent restaurants were almost twice as much as that of chain restaurants. While chain restaurants are expected to grow faster than other restaurant types thanks to their branding, independent operators are still forecasted to perform well against their competitors.

What developments have effected the foodservice industry in South Korea?

When South Korea introduced the 52-hour work week in 2018, concerns were raised by the foodservice industry about fewer work dinners and business drinks. The law started to come in effect for companies with more than 300 employees in 2018 and has been expanded to affect smaller companies since January 2020. Whether or not this will have a huge impact on the industry is yet to be determined. Another major concern for the industry is the increased prices for alcholic beverages such as beer and soju, with foodservice businesses worried about selling less drinks. Additionally, due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in South Korea in the beginning of 2020, less people are going out to public spaces. Nevertheless, consumers have still continued to show their appetite by ordering food delivery online.

What is the leading app for food delivery in South Korea?

One of the biggest headlines in the foodservice industry in South Korea in 2019 was the four billion U.S. dollar acquisition of the South Korean company Woowa Brothers by the Germany-based Delivery Hero. Woowa Brothers operates the most downloaded and used food delivery application Baedal Minjok, also known as Baemin, as well as other services. With the acquisition of the company, Delivery Hero, the company behind the popular food application Yogiyo, bought their biggest rival in the South Korean market.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 27 most important statistics relating to "Foodservice industry in South Korea".

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