Meal kits, also known as home meal replacement (HMR) products, are convenient heat-and-eat food packages. They are favored by busy students and workers as they can easily complete the dish just by following simple cooking instructions using a stove or a microwave oven. According to data released by the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation, the domestic meal kit market stood at 188.2 billion won ($152 million) in 2020, up 85 percent from a year ago. The market is projected to reach 700 billion won by 2025.
The domestic alternative meat market was also vitalized thanks to the increased number of vegans. The country's vegan meat market which stood at 22.7 billion won in 2020 will reach 29.4 billion won in 2025. The number of vegans has gradually increased in South Korea due to increased awareness of health. Some choose a vegan life because of ethical reasons. According to the Korea Vegan Union, the number of vegans in South Korea skyrocketed to about two million in 2021 from about 150,000 in 2008.
BGF Retail said in a statement on January 25 that the alternative egg-based vegan meal kit brand called "Chae-ran" was rolled out. The plant-based meat brand created by Meta Texture, a domestic food tech company specializing in plant-based egg items, has three food items -- fried tofu stuffed with rice known as Yubuchobap, sandwiches, and Korean-Chinese style dish with fried rice, two dumplings, and black bean sauce called "Jjajang." Jjajang is a stew-like sauce made using fermented soybean paste. Jjajang rice is a popular lunch menu provided at canteens operated by schools or companies.
"We are leading new trends in food culture by upgrading both the dignity and diversity of meal kit food through the vegan series," BGF Retail official Hwang Ji-sun said in a statement. The company said CU has already showcased some 40 vegan meal kit brands including pasta and burger since 2019.
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