A U.S. pork hot dog is the new signature product in South Korea’s 7-11s. The Halhwang Corporation began selling the “Kang Yebin Hot Dog” at convenience store (CVS) outlets this spring. It is expected to sell them in the entire 8,000-store 7-Eleven chain in South Korea.
Named after Korean actress and model Kang Yebin, who is featured in marketing materials for the product, the hot dog made from U.S. pork picnics is wrapped with a thin bread coil. It was created by a chef hired by Halhwang to develop multiple sausage products, to capitalize on the growing popularity of processed pork items and bacon among Korea’s younger consumers.
“The first contact Halhwang made with USMEF was when they were looking for bacon importers, and we soon learned that they were planning to launch several sausage items,” explained Junil Park, USMEF senior marketing manager in South Korea. “The company tested many formulas by changing the origins of raw materials – including domestic pork, pork from the European Union and U.S. pork. In the end, U.S. pork was chosen.”
Halhwang initially purchased 150 metric tons of U.S. pork picnic and one container of U.S. bacon. USMEF continues to work with the company – and other Korean processors and distributors – to displace competitors and gain a greater market share for U.S. pork products.
This breakthrough in Korea’s CVS sector is significant in an evolving market with great potential. Korean consumers, mainly those from single households, are circulating the menus and recipes through social media.
“The quantity and quality of lunch box-type meals sold at CVS has not reached the level that it has in Japan, but the trend has definitely started to take hold here,” noted Park.
Korean convenience stores are evolving from simple, 24-hour corner shops into popular shopping places for food and other goods and services. Recognizing an opportunity because of the successful launch of the Kang Yebin hot dog, Halhwang is developing additional items made with U.S. pork.
“As the number of single-person households has been rapidly rising, CVS has become one of the country’s fastest-growing retail industries,” said Alex Choi, USMEF-Korea assistant marketing manager. “Lunch boxes, hot dogs and traditional stew and soup items are growing in popularity and making up a larger share of sales in the CVS sector.”
For its part, 7-Eleven is supporting the new item with online marketing and point-of-purchase materials featuring Yebin and the hot dog.
Meanwhile, processed pork has become a pillar of USMEF’s marketing efforts in the Korea market.
“We are promoting U.S. products, yet at the same time we support locally made processed pork products that use U.S. raw materials,” said Jihae Yang, USMEF director in Korea.
“USMEF supports manufacturers and distributors of locally made sausage, both at CVS and other major retail chains, such as Homeplus. This is the new development in the market, as small and medium-sized manufacturers are looking for competitive raw materials that can displace domestic pork.”