December 27, 2023 08:35
Gourmet varieties of kimchi are taking off at upmarket hotels as rich Koreans become more health-conscious.
Lotte Hotel now sells its leaf mustard and green onion kimchi through an online shopping mall after introducing its own brand of the staple side dish in August this year. It racked up more than W700 million in sales that month alone, prompting the release of a follow-up product three months later (US$1=W1,295).
But Lotte is not the first five-star hotel to jump into the kimchi market. Grand Walkerhill Seoul was the first because the former chairman of SK Group, which owns the hotel, was an avid fan and spearheaded the establishment of a kimchi research institute in 1989. The first product hit stores in 1997.
Josun Hotels & Resorts was second, packaging kimchi served in its buffet restaurant since 2004.
Both hotels had sold their kimchi only in select department stores but expanded sales in the mid-2010s to online retailers.
The aim is to meet rising demand for gourmet kimchi now that quantity no longer trumps quality.
As Koreans became more health-conscious, demand rose for premium kimchi made with the best ingredients. Adding to the demand were news reports of horrid sanitary conditions in Chinese kimchi factories, so hotels here began pitching their use of natural ingredients and appealed to foreign customers with bijou packaging.
All three hotels enjoy rising revenues from kimchi despite the price being almost twice as high as supermarket brands.
Josun's kimchi sales surged 20 percent on-year in the first 10 months of this year, and Lotte's have continued to rise since the August launch, rising 50 percent in October from the previous month. Walkerhill's sales of top-of-the-line kimchi also surged 50 percent.
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