Korean Snacks Boom Around the World Thanks to K-Pop Craze

  • By Song Hye-jin

    October 02, 2021 08:26

    Korean snacks are growing in popularity around the world. They used to be found in major global cities or tourist destinations, but now some products have become very popular in places as far flung as India, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Russia and Vietnam.

    Orion's Choco Pie has long been a best-selling product in Asian countries like China and Vietnam, and the confectioner is expanding its global presence with other snacks.

    It began selling Turtle Chips in 72 Sam's Club wholesale stores in the U.S. states of California, Arizona and Colorado recently after they were first made available in 30 Costco stores in the U.S. in August 2019.

    An Orion staffer said, "Korean snacks are very popular even in Denver and Pueblo, Colorado, where there are relatively fewer Korean-American residents." The staffer added, "Locals who became familiar with K-pop and Korean movies and TV dramas are showing interest in Korean food." 

    Lotte Confectionary's Choco Pie snack now accounts for 90 percent of India's pie segment.

    Given that 30 to 40 percent of the Indian population are vegetarians, Lotte substituted vegetable fat for animal fat as an ingredient. Choco Pie, priced at 150 rupees (around US$2) per box, is more expensive than rival snacks in India, but has gained popularity as a high-end treat.

    Overseas sales of Lotte's Pepero chocolate-covered pretzel sticks reached W18.5 billion during the first half of this year, up 20.1 percent on-year (US$1=W1,185).

    Orion sold W100 billion worth of its Oh! Gamja potato stick snack in the first half in China alone, as it introduced tomato, steak, honey butter and chicken-flavored versions to appeal to local tastes.

    Industry watchers attribute the trend to the craze among foreign fans for K-pop bands like Bangtan Boys, also known as BTS, and Black Pink, as well as growing interest in Korean movies and TV dramas.

    YouTube channels have also helped. "Many people in foreign countries watch Youtubers introducing and eating Korean foods and like to try them themselves," an industry insider said. 

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