The International Rise of Korean Food

The recent rise of Korean cuisine on the global stage has been meteoric. From the ubiquitous kimchi to the spicy gochujang, the taste for Korean flavours is igniting culinary trends worldwide. Amidst this gastronomic revolution lies a particular segment – Korean frozen food, specially produce and food usually consumed fresh. What is this latest K-trend and what opportunities will come from it? Asian Insiders partner for Korea, Sean Han dives deep into the world of K-food.

Frozen food, once relegated to the realm of convenience and affordability, has undergone a remarkable technical transformation in recent years. Advancements in freezing technology have ensured exceptional preservation of texture, flavour and even nutritional value. This has empowered Korean food companies to deliver authentic culinary experiences to consumers around the world, unconstrained by geographical limitations or seasonal availability.

The global frozen food market is projected to reach USD 288 billion by 2027, and Korean brands are well-positioned to capitalise on this growth. Major players like CJ Cheiljedang and Bibigo are aggressively expanding their international footprint, establishing production facilities and distribution networks in key markets. This strategic approach, coupled with innovative product development and effective marketing campaigns, has led to the international rise of Korean food.

This growth in Korean frozen food is not merely an economic phenomenon; it reflects a cultural shift. In a fast-paced world, frozen food offers a convenient and affordable way to connect with Korean culinary traditions. For the large Korean diaspora it provides a taste of home, a reminder of family and heritage. For the increasing number of curious international diners, Korean frozen food allows access to a vibrant and diverse culinary experience. The evolution of the Korean frozen food industry is closely tied to advancements in technology and infrastructure supporting the international cold chain. The development of efficient freezing techniques, cold storage facilities, and sophisticated transportation systems has allowed Korean food producers to reach global markets more efficiently and effectively.

One of the key challenges in the frozen food industry is maintaining the quality and freshness of products throughout the supply chain. In this regard, the Korean frozen food industry has recently developed improved quality control measures to ensure that authenticity and taste is preserved from production to consumption. Cold storage facilities equipped with state-of-the-art freezing technology are critical now in maintaining the texture, flavor, and nutritional value of frozen dishes. Temperature-controlled transportation systems further contribute to the integrity of the cold chain, guaranteeing that products reach their destinations in optimal condition.

The international rise of Korean frozen food is particularly strong in the United States, Europe and Southeast Asia. The convenience of having restaurant-quality Korean meals at home, coupled with a surging interest in global cuisines, has contributed to the global success of Korean frozen food. As diners worldwide develop a taste for a new food product, it undergoes a process of cultural integration and adaptation. Producers often tailor their products to suit local tastes and preferences, striking a balance between preserving the authenticity of Korean flavors and accommodating the palates of diverse consumer bases. Another factor is where some ingredients may be restricted in certain markets, such as beef into the US, and ingredients need to be tailored accordingly.

The international rise of Korean frozen food is reflected in its presentation and packaging, adjusted to resonate with local aesthetics. Spice and sweetness levels might be modified to align with regional preferences. Just as Korean has cleverly done with its TV, pop and entertainment industries, this flexible approach allows Korean frozen food to find acceptance within the culinary landscapes of different countries while retaining its distinct identity.

Consumers around the world are noticing sharp prices rises in fresh produce. At the same time, supermarkets are offering increasing ranges of frozen produce and meals.  The accompanying shift in food consumption habits allows the introduction of new categories, new tastes and Korean frozen food is amongst them. With improving technology supermarket freezers are becoming more exciting and the line between convenience and gourmet is blurring. The international rise of Korean frozen food is synonymous with greater interest in Kimbap, or ready to cook Galbi or Bulgoggi and even a neatly packaged Tteokbokki kit. For different reasons these appeal to millions of Koreans abroad as well as diners looking for exciting taste alternatives.

Despite its strong recent success, the Korean frozen food industry does face some challenges. Rising food costs, competition from established players, and cultural perceptions of frozen food in certain markets are hurdles to overcome. However, Korea is known for its resilient adaptation to new realities and now is no different. More sustainable sourcing practices have reduced environmental footprints, and a focus on health and wellness are gaining traction, making Korean frozen food even more appealing to international consumers. But can Korean frozen food producers keep up? Now, as 2024 looms, this is a booming market.

Asian Insiders offers tremendous experience in working with South Korea’s food and beverage sector, both domestically and outbound internationally. To explore the potential in this market, you are invited to a no-obligation call with Jari Hietala, Managing Partner: jari.hietala(at) or with Partner for Korea, Sean Han: sean.han(at)

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