SEOUL — Pulmuone Food & Culture, the cafeteria service management wing of Seoul-based food company Pulmuone, opened a vegan restaurant inside a gigantic shopping mall complex in Gangnam District, Seoul’s heart of fashion and finance targeting South Korea’s steadily growing vegan population.
The number of vegans has gradually increased in South Korea thanks to increased awareness of health and well-being. According to the Korea Vegetarian Union, the number of vegans sharply increased from about 150,000 in 2008 to some 1.5 million in 2018. There were about 500 vegan restaurants as of 2019.
Thanks to the increased number of vegans, South Korea’s vegan meat market was also vitalized to meet demands. Data released by Euromonitor, a market research firm, showed that the country’s vegan meat market stood at 10.2 billion won ($8 million) as of 2020. In July 2021, Shinsegae Food, a food company affiliated with South Korea’s retail giant Shinsegae, released vegan cold cuts, pre-cooked or sliced cuts of meat, for Starbucks sandwiches. Emart, the megastore wing of Shinsegae, is currently selling alternative meat products called “Unlimeat” at meat sections in 20-selected Emart stores.
Pulmuone said in a statement on May 23 that the company opened the vegan restaurant called “Plantude” at COEX Mall in southern Seoul. The store with 47 seats provides 13 different vegan menus including plant-based Bulgogi Deopbap, a rice bowl topped with Korean-style barbecued marinated beef. The marinated beef barbecue is made using alternative meat. The restaurant was authorized by the Korea Agency of Vegan Assessment & Certification, a private vegan food standard agency that issues certificates for verified plant-based products.
In December 2021, Pulmuone partnered with the South Korean office of International Flavors & Fragrances, a United States-based food and beverage ingredient developer, to secure competitiveness in the global plant-based meat market. According to global market research firm Statista, the global plant based-meat market reached about $6.67 billion as of 2020. The U.S. was the world’s largest vegan meat market with a total market size of some $1.4 billion. Pulmuone is also supplying its vegan meat products to the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
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