Walking down the aisle of Costco, I was surprised to find a rack full of dumpling packs from Bibigo, a widely known Korean brand. Since when did Korean products become so prominent in major multinational corporations such as Costco? Korean food, also known as K-food, is becoming more and more popular worldwide and global sales are sky-rocketing. Some major Korean companies such as Nongshim, Bibigo, and Orion are the main contributors to this popularity, as they have massive fans of their products worldwide.
Shin ramen, the main product of Nongshim, took the lead in boosting sales for the company. Nongshim posted 225 million dollars in sales in the U.S., and shin ramen was sold at world-class distribution channels such as Wal-Mart, Costco, and Amazon. With bright red as its representative color, the instant noodle product is one of the main commodities that represent Korean food in the global market. Not only in the U.S., Nongshim also expanded sales in Southeast Asia, Australia, China, etc. One surprising fact is that the ratios of black, white, and Latin consumers were higher than that of Asians- shin ramen had earned a universal recognition for its affordable price, satisfying quality and easy access.
Another Korean product that became popular worldwide would be Bibigo dumplings and choco pie. The overseas sales of Bibigo, choco pie and shin ramen all exceeded 263 million dollars last year. Compared with the previous year, Bibigo dumplings’ sales rocketed by 42.5%, mainly due to the major distribution channels such as Costco. Choco pie, a familiar snack to many Koreans, has been exported globally since the 2000s and is also an outstanding item, having sold nearly 12.1 billion products since its launch in the international market. As seen in these cases, K-food has established its place not only in the U.S. market or in Southeast Asia, but globally.
So what are the main reasons for the overwhelming popularity of these products? According to market watchers, K-food became widely known for their high quality, taste and uniqueness. As people are living busily in the modern society, ready-to-eat items that can be prepared by microwave oven cooking are of high demand. K-food, such as instant Shin ramen and Bibigo dumplings, fulfill these needs and therefore are gaining wide popularity.
In addition to the famous dumplings, Bibigo has also begun selling more traditional Korean products such as samgyetang (chicken soup), kimchi soup, and bibimbap. Since they can easily be bought online at Amazon, and be cooked for only a few minutes while still delivering the flavors usually only available at Korean restaurants, they are extremely attractive to people who do not have time to go out to enjoy the splendid flavors of Korea. Selling these traditional Korean products in mainstream distribution channels is spreading Korean culture. Another case is Bibigo’s bibimbap, which fits with the well-being, healthy diet trending globally, and is favored by many people worldwide.
Korean products have begun to gain recognition in the global market regardless of product type, and will soon dominate our meals with their delicate flavors. Why not drive to your local Costco and check out some fresh Korean products?
Seohyun Chun, Grade 12
McLean High School