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S. Korean food companies target rapidly growing global alternative food ingredient market

By Park Sae-jin Posted : May 8, 2023, 16:13 Updated : May 8, 2023, 16:13

[Courtesy of Shinsegae Food]

SEOUL -- South Korea's major food companies are jumping into the domestic alternative food ingredient product market that is rapidly growing at an average annual growth rate of about 13 percent to reach 280 billion won ($212 million) by 2026. The global alternatives market is predicted to reach $161.9 billion by 2030.
 
Alternative food ingredients are protein-based processed ingredients that are mainly made with vegetable materials to create meat and fish-like textures and flavors. Alternative ingredients including artificial meat are mainly categorized into three types -- vegetable-based, lab-grown, and fermented. Tofu made of beans is South Korea's favorite protein-based meat alternative but new products made of mushrooms, potatoes, and other ingredients such as mung bean sprouts are gaining attention.
 
According to data released by the Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI), the domestic alternative meat market is the fastest-growing sector in the total alternative food ingredient market, estimated to stand at 30 billion won by 2025 with an average annual growth rate of about 5.4 percent. Alternative meat products are gaining popularity among vegans and other non-vegan consumers who are worried about the negative environmental effects of livestock farming.
 
Shinsegae Food, the food-making wing of South Korea's retail giant Shinsegae, plans to make an extra investment of $4 million into Better Foods, an American subsidiary, in 2023 to capture more customers in the United States. The company also filed a copyright patent for "Protein King" as a preparation for a vegetable-based protein product brand.
 
CJ Cheiljedang, a key subsidiary of South Korea's food and entertainment conglomerate CJ Group, invested some 1.3 billion into Indonesian food tech company Green Rebel to release vegetable-based beef, chicken, and cheese products in South Korea. The food giant also reportedly invested in Aqua Cultured Foods, an American startup that focuses on lab-grown seafood alternatives by providing nutrients to microorganisms.

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