More coffee less rice

The food trends in Korea are making a change, according to this article by the Korea Times today.

Rice has long been the No. 1 selling item in Korea but, this year, it was ousted to third place instant coffee. (instant!)

The three-in-one coffee mix, a steady selling sachet of coffee powder, creamer and sugar, has shot up in popularity this year to take the No. 1 spot in sales at Shinsegae E-mart, the nation’s largest hypermarket chain, according the article.

The sweet brew climbed from last year’s No. 3 sales position, indicating that the spike is in line with the theory that people seek solace in sweets during economic downturns.

According to E-mart’s January to November sales data collected from the chain’s 126 outlets nationwide, coffee mix posted the strongest sales figure among 2,874 products the retailer carries.

Instant noodles ranked second ― unchanged from last year’s status.

Meanwhile, rice fell to third place.

The government projects this year’s rice consumption will total 4.3 million metric tons, leaving a surplus of 200,000 to 280,000 tons. The nation’s per-capita annual rice consumption of 76 kilograms has shrunk by a quarter over the past 10 years due to people’s changing diet patterns.

Koreans eating more Western-style foods is one reason why sales of rice are falling at E-mart and other hypermarkets. But online shopping may be another, retailers say.

Also in the mix, cosmetics and big televisions were new to the top 10 this year, but canned beer and baby milk fell from the best-seller list.

“Recent shopping patterns show that people spend money on items with lasting value, instead of those that are quickly consumable,” said Park of E-mart, who added that the nation’s worsening birthrate is increasingly affecting the sales of baby-related products.