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CU releases new range of snacks for vegans

Nov 05,2019
Convenience store chain CU has introduced a range of vegan options as the dietary choice gains traction in Korea.

BGF Retail, which operates CU, said Monday it has released vegan dosirak, or lunch boxes. CU also plans to launch vegan burgers and vegan gimbap (rice covered in seaweed).

CU’s efforts reflect the growing popularity of veganism in Korea. The convenience store said its offerings are more competitively priced than other vegan snacks on the market.

Some of CU’s vegan snacks use a plant-based substitute for meat, which it says has a chewy texture similar to a real meat product.

The dosirak, priced at 3,300 won ($2.95), contains steamed pumpkin with chickpeas and pasta. The pasta with basil pesto and black olives doesn’t contain dairy products or eggs, according to CU.

The burger, which will be released on Nov. 12 and costs 2,700 won, includes a patty made from a plant-based substitute along with lettuce and tomatoes. The bun and sauce also do not contain animal derivatives.

Most gimbap sold in Korea contains some form of meat. For the vegan version, the plant-based substitute has once again been used, along with fried tofu to increase the chewiness, according to CU. It costs 2,500 won.

CU said it introduced vegan snacks due to the increase in the number of vegans in Korea, who turn to veganism in order to protect the environment or improve their health.

According to the Korea Vegetarian Union, the number of vegans in Korea last year jumped up to between 1.5 million and 2 million compared to 150,000 in 2008. There are around 350 vegan restaurants in Korea.

“We have released vegan snacks, the first in the industry to do so, at an affordable price due to the rapidly growing vegan market,” said a spokesperson from BGF Retail in a statement. “CU will expand the horizon of food categories in consideration of the environment and [consumer] health.”

On the back of the shift to veganism, food companies have also started releasing vegan-friendly products. Lotte Foods in April introduced vegetarian nuggets and cutlets, while Dongwon F&B started selling plant-based meat company Beyond Meat products in Korea in February.

BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]