CJ Cheiljedang led Korean food manufacturers in terms of domestic sales last year, according to figures from the Korea Food and Drug Administration. Next came Nongshim, Lotte Chilsung Beverage, Lotte Confectionery, and Coca-Cola Korea.
But among food exporters Korean Air Catering topped the list with W196 billion (US$1=W1,110), according to the KFDA.
Korean Air operates two food processing plants, at Gimpo and Incheon airports, which can produce 50,000 meals a day and process about 20,000 kinds of in-flight meals, including Korean food.
Sixty percent of them are served on Korean Air and the rest is sold to about 40 airlines whose planes make stops in Korea.
Koo Eun-kyung of Korean Air explained that all in-flight meals on Korean Air are counted as exports because they are served in skies over international waters.
White sugar topped the list of Korean export food stuffs until 2009, but it was replaced by in-flight meals in 2010 amid increasing demand for air travel.
Korea's food industry, except for agricultural produce and liquor products, suffers a trade deficit, which rose 29 percent from W3.82 trillion in 2009 to W4.93 trillion last year.