Shinsegae Group, one of South Korea’s top retail conglomerates, embarked on the rapidly growing alternative meat market. In particular, its food and ingredients distribution unit, Shinsegae Food Inc., launched a new meat analog brand called ‘Better Meat.’
Offering Alternative Meat Products
Under the Better Meat brand, Shinsegae Food would offer alternative meat products based on its food processing technologies. Better Meat’s first product release would include soy protein and vegetable oil-based cold-cut hams.
Moreover, the food company revealed that it developed its new products using seaweed extracts. As a result, the meat analogs’ textures and looks resemble those of ham made from pork. The cold-cut products also used beetroot and paprika to achieve natural colorings.
Shinsegae Food also patented the technology used to replicate authentic pork meat texture using only plant-based products. On a similar note, the company concentrated on pork alternatives instead of the more popular beef meat substitutes as part of its business growth prospects.
According to Shinsegae Food, since South Korea’s most-consumed meat type is pork, its pork alternatives would grow at a considerably faster rate than its beef counterparts. Better Meat also priced its new meat alternatives at 20% cheaper than pork-based ham products.
Partnering with Starbucks Korea
Furthermore, Shinsegae Food plans to create a strategic partnership with Starbucks Korea, a Shinsegae affiliate. Under the upcoming collaboration, Starbucks Korea would roll out sandwiches made from Shinsegae Food’s meat-free cold-cut products.
The two companies’ alternative meat sandwich products launch also aims to cover all Starbucks Korea branches. In the same vein, another Shinsegae affiliate, E-mart, acquired an additional 17.5% Starbucks Korea share, raising its ownership to 67.5%.
Similarly, E-mart and its parent company obtained 80% of eBay Korea, strengthening its foothold in the increasingly competitive e-commerce sector. Additionally, Shinsegae Food would introduce its meat analogs across overseas markets, capitalizing on the lenient vegetable-based alternative products export regulations.
Surging Demand for Meat-Free Alternatives
Industry analysts forecasted that the meat substitute market would occupy more than 30% of the world’s meat industry by 2030. Recently, South Korea saw a surging demand for meat-free alternatives after locals significantly became interested in healthier food options.
In response, industry-leading domestic companies have been launching plant-based meat alternatives. For instance, Shinsegae Food’s No Brand Burger introduced the ‘No Chicken Nuggets’ product in April. No Brand Burger sold more than 100,000 units of the said product within its first 30 days on the market.
Founded in 1979, Lotte Group’s burger chain Lotteria became the first-ever fast-food franchise in South Korea to roll out plant-based options. Lotteria also sold over 2 million substitute burgers with meat-free patties in 2020.
Local startups have also introduced meat alternative innovations, including SeaWith, a food technology company. Since 2019, SeaWith has been lab-growing seaweed-based meat, offering consumers greener food choices. SeaWith also aims to launch its cultured meat products across local restaurants by 2022.
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