Housewives and single households buying packs of Banchan and main menus are commonly witnessed at marketplaces and stores. Banchan stores are favored by consumers who cannot spare time to prepare meals that normally consist of a bowl of steamed rice, a bowl of soup and several side dishes. At homes, cooking Banchan requires repetitive work as small amounts of side dishes are cooked at a time so that they can be consumed within a few days.
According to a July survey of 1,374 people, conducted by the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation (aT), 52 percent used meal subscription services. People in their 40s were the age group with the highest subscription rate of 60.2 percent, followed by those in their 30s with 59 percent and those over 60 with 58.1 percent.
South Korea's online commerce market has introduced meal subscription services. Coupang, the South Korean version of Amazon, and Market Kurly, known for its overnight grocery delivery service, established logistics networks to enable overnight or one-day delivery services. Regular deliveries of Banchan or meal kits are normally delivered weekly or monthly in sealed packages.
Convenience was the main reason why consumers favored meal subscription services. The survey found that 66.2 percent used Banchan or meal delivery services for convenience. Some 28.4 percent used meal subscription services to save costs and 21.9 percent preferred them because they do not have to choose what to eat.
The popularity of meal subscription services prompted South Korean conglomerates to actively follow suit. Shinsegae, the retail giant that operates offline megastores, department stores and online shopping malls, targets bread lovers by offering subscription services through its premium department store bakery brands.
Hyundai Department Store, a major department store franchise, also ventured into the meal subscription market in August by offering a Banchan subscription service. The department store franchise operator provides weekly subscriptions of Banchans created by premium makers at discounted prices.
Dongwon Home Food, the food ingredient retailer wing of South Korea's canned tuna maker, Dongwon Group, aggressively targeted the online meal subscription market by adding new subscription menus including some 560 kinds of Banchan, cakes and premium seafood on August 4.
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