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PigUp targets MZ consumers with new meat culture

True to its 'New Meat, New Generation' slogan, PigUp takes on the meat industry culture in Korea

Jun 16, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

PigUp co-founders: Lee Won-woo (left) and Shin Woo-sup (right)
PigUp co-founders: Lee Won-woo (left) and Shin Woo-sup (right)

South Korea's island of Jeju is famous for its native citrus and pork. It's also where Shin Woo-sup, the founder of startup studio Futurera, came up with the idea for PigUp, a startup that offers custom pork for consumers.

The idea came to him during his stay in Jeju as he witnessed the ongoing conflict between pig farmers and local villagers.

"I realized that factory farming, which only focuses on maximizing efficiency, was the root cause and it got me thinking about how I could help change the system," said Shin.

Shin, a veteran entrepreneur, came to the conclusion that proposing a new method of purchasing custom meat could not only enhance the consumer experience but also address the problematic issues while aligning with the changing values of today's society.

Shin reached out to Lee Won-woo, his former colleague from the K-pop platform MyMusicTaste, which Shin co-founded. And together, they created PigUp.

"My father was a pig farmer all his life and I joined him after I left MyMusicTaste," said Lee, adding that the idea for PigUp had been stewing for some time.

"Even when we worked together at MyMusicTaste, Shin was very mindful about his grocery shopping, saying that it's important to know what we eat because it's directly tied to our health," said Lee.

The company offers its customers a broad range of choices when it comes to consuming pork. On PigUp, users can make custom orders based on how the pig is raised and fed, such as requesting a free-range pig or a grass-fed pig. They can also select customized cuts. 

"The main idea is to know where the meat comes from -- how the pig was raised, what shots it has received and its diet," said Lee.

This type of animal welfare and meat consumption awareness is more common abroad, while it is still a foreign concept in Korea. PigUp's goal is to usher in a new meat culture that not only introduces a fresh business model to the livestock industry but also reinvents the consumer culture.

"Consumers may think that all pigs are the same. But on our platform, consumers aren't just buying pork. They are also purchasing the process of how the pig was raised," said Lee, adding that the company's first step is to educate consumers on the various ways that pigs can be raised.

PigUp believes their approach aligns with the purchasing behavior of millennials and Gen Zers, collectively known as MZers, given their emphasis on the environment and animal welfare.

According to Shin, there are already several startups in Korea that have tapped into the livestock and meat industry in line with the growing animal welfare market.

So far, the company has raised pre-seed funding from strategic investors that are mostly industry peers. Moving forward, the company plans to secure financial investors and retail partners that can help PigUp reach a wider consumer base.

"Retail and grocery platforms such as Market Kurly, Coupang and Shinsegae are constantly searching for new products to offer to their customers, and that's where we can come in, by offering customized meat based on their needs," said Lee.

PigUp also plans to collaborate with high-end restaurants requiring high-quality meat.

"Our ultimate goal is to help build a nationwide retail network that allows consumers to buy customized pork," said Shin.

By Danbee Lee

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