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Food remains a source of growth for economy

Sept 11,2017
Korea’s restaurant industry recorded sales of 108 trillion won ($95.4 billion) in 2015, an 8.9 percent year-on-year jump according to a report jointly issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and Korea Agro-Fisheries and Food Trade Corporation on Sunday.

In that year there were as many as 78 restaurants per person in Korea.

The industry’s growth rate far exceeded Korea’s economic growth, which was 3.6 percent that year. The industry is still led by small business with less than five people on staff.

The 2015 statistics were the latest data compiled by the ministry.

There were 660,000 restaurants in Korea in 2015 and 569,000 or 86.5 percent had less than five employees. Restaurants big enough to hire more than 10 employees accounted for mere 2.7 percent, according to the report.

Korea’s food manufacturing industry saw sales of 84 trillion won in 2015, a 6.8 percent year-on-year growth.

The number of employees in the restaurant and food manufacturing industries reached 2.28 million in 2015, a 25.6 percent jump compared to a decade earlier.

“On the back of rising single households and the gradual and constant rise of franchises in Korea, the food service industry has been continuously expanding,” an official at the ministry said.

The number of employees associated with restaurants reached 1.95 million. That was a 24 percent jump compared to 2005, when the country only had 530,000 restaurants nationwide. The most common type of restaurant was traditional Korean eateries, numbering 304,005 establishments nationwide, followed by cafes that sell non-alcoholic drinks, numbering 59,656.

Eateries that sell snacks such as gimbap totaled 43,719, followed by chicken joints with 32,600 outlets.

Traditional Korean restaurants had the most revenue: 51.1 trillion won that year.

Eateries that offer western food like pasta or hamburgers, however, generated the highest revenue per establishment, with 390 million won on average, followed by Japanese restaurants with 320 million won per establishment in a year.

There were 21 companies associated with the food manufacturing industry that recorded more than 1 trillion won in revenues in 2015. In 2005, only four Korean companies had revenues of that size.

CJ CheilJedang, a processed food affiliate of CJ Group ranked first with 4.9 trillion won in 2015 revenues. Lotte Chilsung Beverage came in second with 2.1 trillion won, followed by Ottogi with 1.8 trillion won.

BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]