Convenience store chain CU launches meal kit brand with vegetable egg

[Courtesy of BGF Retail]

SEOUL — Aimed at South Korea’s steadily growing vegan population, the country’s largest convenience store franchise, CU, released a vegan meal kit brand featuring plant-based eggs. Alternative eggs made by incorporating mung beans, pumpkin and soybeans were included in food menus such as sandwiches.

Meal packs, also known as home meal replacement (HMR) products, are convenient food packs for warming up and eating. They are a favorite of busy students and blue-collar workers because they can easily complete the dish by following simple cooking instructions using a stove or microwave. According to data from the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation, the domestic meal kit market was worth 188.2 billion won ($152 million) in 2020, up 85 percent from a year ago. The market is expected to gain 700 billion by 2025.The domestic alternative meat market was also vitalized thanks to the increased number of vegans. The country’s vegan meat market, which reached 22.7 billion won in 2020, will reach 29.4 billion won in 2025. The number of vegans in South Korea has gradually increased due to increased health awareness. Some choose to live a vegan life for ethical reasons. According to the Korea Vegan Union, the number of vegans in South Korea has skyrocketed from about 150,000 in 2008 to about two million in 2021.

BGF Retail said in a statement on Jan. 25 that the alternative egg-based vegan meal kit dubbed “Chae-ran” was being rolled out. The plant-based meat brand, created by Meta Texture, a domestic food technology company specializing in plant-based egg products, has three food items: fried tofu stuffed with rice known as Yubuchobap, sandwiches, and a Korean-Chinese style fried rice dish, two dumplings and black bean sauce called “Jjajang.” Jjajang is a stew-like sauce made from fermented soybean paste. Jjajang rice is a popular lunch menu offered in school or company canteens.

“We are leading new trends in food culture by enhancing both the dignity and diversity of meal kits through the vegan series,” BGF Retail official Hwang Ji-sun said in a statement. The company said that since 2019, CU has already showcased some 40 vegan meal kit brands, including pasta and burger.

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