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CJ Bibigo challenges kimchi leadership in Korea

South Korea’s packaged kimchi market was created by the current industry leader Daesang Corp. in 1988

By Jul 26, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

CJ Cheiljedang’s Bibigo kimchi.
CJ Cheiljedang’s Bibigo kimchi.

CJ Cheiljedang Corp. may overtake Daesang Corp.’s leadership in Korea’s packaged kimchi market for the first time in history.

According to Nielsen Korea’s data on July 26, CJ’s last-year share in the domestic kimchi market was 37.5%, just 4.0 percentage points behind the long-time market leader Daesang. Analysts highlight that CJ in recent years has rapidly closed the market share gap, which was 11.8 percentage points in 2018 and 5.0 percentage points in 2019.  

Daesang, globally known for its Jongga Kimchi brand, pioneered the creation of the country’s packaged kimchi industry in 1988. CJ joined the market more than a decade after its rival in the year 2000. The industry size of Korea’s packaged kimchi market is estimated at 300 billion won ($260 million).

Daesang’s Jongga kimchi has been the market leader since 1988.
Daesang’s Jongga kimchi has been the market leader since 1988.

CJ in 2007 expanded its presence in the market by acquiring Hasunjung Co., a traditional food maker established in 1954, which had a strong brand value in kimchi. Later in 2016, CJ launched its own kimchi product under the Bibigo brand.

KIMCHI AND THE MILLENIALS  

CJ’s own data shows that its kimchi products are primarily purchased by consumers in their 20s and 30s, who make up 61.4% of the total. Likewise, the market research firm Kantar Korea’s survey showed that 43.3% of single-person households and the households with children were consumers of CJ-made kimchi, whereas the figure was only 32.5% for Daesang.

On the other hand, Daesang dominated the adult-only household and senior household segments, with 37.6% market share versus CJ’s 21.4%.

Market analysts highlight that CJ Bibigo could close the share gap with Daesang largely due to its popular small-package products under 500 grams, which grew by 16% in sales versus 2019.  

Moreover, CJ Bibigo has a total of 14 non-traditional kimchi products in the market, such as stir-fried kimchi with bacon and white kimchi for kids. CJ leads the market in the non-traditional category of packaged kimchi.

CJ Bibigo’s stir-fried kimchi with bacon.
CJ Bibigo’s stir-fried kimchi with bacon.

“As the millennials have become the main group of kimchi consumers, the industry understands that the packaged kimchi products also need to evolve,” said an industry official.

Meanwhile, South Korea recorded the highest volume of kimchi exports in 2020, selling $145 million worth of kimchi in about 80 markets overseas. The export figure last year was up by 37.6% from that of 2019. About half, or 49.2%, of the exports in 2020 were sold to Japan that imported $71.1 million worth of kimchi.

Other top importers included the US with $23.1 million, Hong Kong with $7.8 million, Taiwan with $5.8 million and Australia with $5.6 million.

Write to Jong-kwan Park at pjk@hankyung.com

Daniel Cho edited this article.

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