South Korea’s modern dairy industry started in the 19th century with the import of Holstein cows for milk production, and the first milk processing factory, Gyeongseong Milk Trade Association, was established in 1937 and is now known as Seoul Dairy Cooperative.
In recent years, dairy products have enjoyed a rise in popularity, with cheese becoming a popular topping for Korean dishes and milk serving as a snack or meal replacement. Accordingly, South Korea tried to increase the production of dairy products and launched the label “K-milk” for consumers who prefer purchasing domestic products. Due to the high consumption of dairy products, South Korea has become an important market for the dairy industry, often being used as a test market for products planned for Asian countries.
Flavored milk in particular has become a popular snack, with Binggrae’s Banana milk becoming the flavored milk to buy when out and about. The consumption of regular milk had decreased overall, but still, the majority of South Koreans who consumed milk did so multiple times a week. Milk sales to primary schools made up around 5.5 percent of the domestic consumption of regular milk. The milk is usually distributed in primary school classes and pre-school to increase vitamin intake and achieve balanced diets. However, as South Koreans become more health-conscious and aware of animal welfare issues, more consumers are trying organic products or plant-based alternatives, leading to a growing milk alternatives market.
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