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South Korea’s foodservice industry thriving despite rumours

Rumours that South Korea’s foodservice industry is in a slump have been scotched by new data showing the sector is actually growing at a steady 9 per cent annually

And it’s the thriving coffee sector which is driving much of the growth.

Analysts say the gap between business sentiment and the real economy is widening as the polarisation between sectors is deepening.

According to a survey conducted by Kim Young-gap, a professor at Hanyang Cyber University, using a big data business analysis system from consulting firm Nice Genie Data, the size of the Korean food service industry was estimated to exceed US$155.2 billion last year.

Unlike other sluggish industries, the coffee and beverage sectors grew at a fast pace of more than 20 per cent, leaving other industries far behind.

The growth rates of carb food, accounting for 15.2 per cent, Chinese food, accounting for 14.3 per cent, and bakeries, accounting for 11.7 per cent, were also notable.

On the other hand, bars saw a negative growth of -1.3 per cent, buffets grew by 0.5 per cent and Western food grew by 3.8 per cent, which also illustrates poor growth.

The total number of restaurants rose 3.2 per cent annually from about 604,000 in 2016 to about 663,000 last year.

In the number of restaurants, coffee and beverage companies also ranked first with a 19-per-cent increase, far ahead of the confectionary, baking, rice cake and cake industries with an 8.7 per cent increase.

Major customers of South Korea’s foodservice industry are likely to be reorganised into those in their 20s and 50s and 60s.

In terms of the rate of increase and decrease for consumers by gender and age at food service establishments, the number of people in their teens and 30s and 40s declined, while that of men in their 50s and 60s and 20s increased.

This trend translated into an increase in the number of customers in their 20s, mainly at fast food restaurants, as well as a growing number of customers in their 50s and 60s opting for Korean food, according to Kim.

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