Why Avocado Toast and Other Western Food Trends Have not Come to korea

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Avocado Toast in Korea
So trying to predict the next new food trend is like trying to figure out what the next world-hit, k-pop song is going to be. It seems impossible...sorta because there are certain variables that should be considered.

Avocados are like mangosteens are like limes are like dragonfruit, blueberries, aged beef, dry red wine, IPAs, coffee beans and bananas. They start out as new things that many Koreans don't know much about but will buy based on value and appearances. They are thought to be exotic, premium and healthy. So many foods become food hits each year such as quinoa, teff, fava beans, black garlic, etc. Each item becomes a craze and then is incorporated into different foods to add value such as adding green tea to pork belly, moon pies, seaweed, ice cream, shaved ice and much more. Then the food fad is gone because the food was not really understood for what it was. For example, let's look at avocados and mangosteens. The outside shell makes it really difficult to tell when they are ripe and the education isn't there for the general population to know when to eat them. I know...they can google it, but in Korea they ask their peers. 

Even though in 2016 Korea was a huge growth market for avocado, I believe that unless 80% of the population - the older generation people and younger generation people learn to appreciate the product, growth will stabilize and then drop. 

I personally want access to fresh avocados and mangosteens because I love them.  I used to see avocados at 5,000 a piece in the markets but I can now see some for 2 for 3,000 won. I know that this is because the fruit is spoiling or people don't know how to eat them. I will keep buying them up, because I know that eventually the fresh fruit will disappear. I do believe that growth in avocado oils, snacks, frozen avocado, and non-perishable products will grow.  In order for a food trend to be sustained, the Korean market has to be properly educated and the product has to show value. The value has to be for health, price and sustainability. I am not sure if avocados can be fermented, but if they can, that would be of high value to Korean consumers. 

I also believe that for foods to become hits in Korea, they need to have the image of fortification, nutrition, and value. They also need to know when the food is ripe: and to know the optimal moment for consumption when the food is most nutritious or ripe. It is a culture where fermentation is of high value, after all. Also, people that are doing the marketing, the angle should be focused on education while also being exotic and premium. I think the basic rule should be to have your grandmother and your elder peers tell you what you should be eating or buying. 

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