국내 구내식당 사업은 작년 초까지 재벌 그룹 계열사 또는 관계사인 아워홈, 삼성 에버랜드, 현대그린푸드, 신세계푸드, 한화호텔앤리조트, CJ 프레시웨이와 중견 기업인 동원홈푸드, ECMD (풀무원 계열)가 장악해 왔다.
작년 3월 중소 급식업체 참여 확대를 위해 기획재정부가 공공기관 내 구내식당 사업 입찰에서 대기업을 배제시켰으나, 중소기업보다는 외국기업과 국내 중견기업에게 그 수혜가 돌아가는 결과를 낳았다.
작년에 기존 급식업체와의 계약이 종료되어 새로운 급식업체를 선정한 공공기관들 중 8곳이 세계 3대 급식업체 중 하나인 아라마크의 국내 자회사 아라코를 선택했다. 아라마크는 전세계 22개국에 직원수가 26만명에 달하고 연 매출이 14조원에 이르는 것으로 알려졌다.
또 동원홈푸드와 ECMD와 같이 매출규모가 CJ 프레시웨이와 비슷하거나 오히려 더 큰 중견 급식업체도 대기업 계열사가 빠져나간 빈 자리를 채우며 작년 공공기관 식당 입찰의 절반 가까이 따내는 등 시장점유율을 크게 높였다.
연 매출 백억원 규모의 중소 급식업체 이조캐터링서비스 관계자는, 기재부 방침으로 "혜택을 전혀 못 봤다고는 할 수 없으나 아직 중소업체에게 돌아가는 기회가 많이 부족한 실정"이라고 말했다.
"누구나 들으면 다 아는 동원과 풀무원 ECMD 같은 큰 급식업체가 단지 재벌그룹이 아니란 이유로 입찰 배제 대상에서 빠진 것은 맞지 않는 것 같다"고도 말했다.
계열사는 물론 타기업, 병원, 대학, 연수원, 요양시설 등의 구내식당을 운영하는 재벌그룹 관계사들은 한 때 90프로가 넘는 시장점유율을 자랑했으나 공공기관 구내식당 입찰에서 배제되면서 점유율이 많이 떨어졌다.
한편 지난주 국내 대기업 및 중견기업의 외식업 진출을 사실상 금지한 동반성장위원회는, 아직까지 급식사업 관련해서 검토 요청 들어온 것이 없어 급식사업 문제를 논의한 적 없다고 전했다.
(코리아헤럴드 김소현 기자)
<관련 영문 기사>No room for small firms in canteen business
By Kim So-hyun
One of the perks of working in a big-enough company or institution in Korea is getting balanced meals from cafeterias at relatively low prices compared to nearby restaurants.
The operation of most of these canteens is consigned to large firms -- Samsung Everland, Our Home (which spun off from LG Group in 2000, but is still entirely owned by the founder’s grandchildren), Hyundai Green Food, Shinsegae Food, Hanwha Hotels & Resorts, CJ Freshway, Dongwon Home Food and ECMD (of Pulmuone).
These companies, five of which belong to conglomerates with total assets of more than 5 trillion won, run canteens in all of their affiliates as well as other firms, hospitals, universities, training centers and nursing homes.
Elementary through high schools, however, cannot outsource cafeteria operation under a legal revision made after a food poisoning case in 2006, although they are supplied with food materials from companies like CJ.
Many small food service providers that mostly catered to schools have gone bankrupt since then.
Thanks to economies of scale, large firms have an incomparable advantage over small players. The bigger the meal service business, the more lucrative it becomes because after fixed costs such as salaries and kitchen facility expenses, the cost per meal drops as the volume grows. Large firms can also cut costs since they distribute food supplies at the same time.
As of 2010, Our Home and Samsung Everland commanded nearly 30 percent of the cafeteria market each. Hyundai Green Food and Shinsegae Food together accounted for about another 30 percent, and the rest was taken up by Hanwha Hotels and Resorts and CJ Freshway.
Until early last year, nearly half of the canteens in public institutions including government agencies were run by the six chaebol companies.
Their market shares dropped significantly, however, after the Finance Ministry forbade them from bidding for cafeteria business in public institutions last year, hoping to give more chance to small players.
But the move led to an unexpected outcome: foreign meal service providers and sizeable domestic firms like Dongwon and Pulmuone replaced those six companies.
Eight public institutions including Seoul City’s Dasan Call Center and the Korea Credit Guarantee Fund selected Arakor, the Korean arm of American food service company Aramark, as their new canteen operator last year.
Aramark, one of the world’s three largest meal service providers, employs some 260,000 people across 22 countries and its annual sales amount to 14 trillion won, more than 10 times the sales of Our Home (1.24 trillion won in 2011).
Aramark set up Arakor in 1993 as a joint venture with an affiliate of Daewoo Group to provide meals for Daewoo affiliates. After Daewoo collapsed in 2001, Aramark bought its entire stake in Arakor.
“Armed with cheaper food materials and advanced systems, global food providing corporations can dominate the market in no time,” said an official at a local meal service provider.
“Japan’s cafeteria market was taken over by global giants like Aramark and Britain’s Compass Group when local firms weakened.”
With the six chaebol affiliates out of the picture, Dongwon Home Food and ECMD of Pulmuone, which do not belong to Korea’s largest conglomerates but boast substantial sales, are also seizing the opportunity.
Sales of Dongwon Home Food and ECMD are estimated to be around 110 billion won and 180 billion won each, compared to CJ Freshway’s 170 billion won. Arakor made about 93.3 billion won in 2011.
Leecho Catering Service, an SME with annual sales of around 10 billion won, said the ministry’s measure did help SMEs a little, but not significantly.
“We cannot say we did not benefit at all from it, but chances are still very limited for SMEs,” said an official at Leecho.
“Companies like Dongwon and ECMD are major companies in the canteen business, and it seems unfair that they were excluded from the measure.”
Nearly half of the 37 public institutions that renewed their cafeteria operators last year chose Dongwon and ECMD.
In addition to the political calls for stronger regulations on chaebol, some complain that the cafeterias they run in companies other than their own lack food quality.
A foreign pharmaceutical firm recently replaced its cafeteria operator, which was one of the six big shots, due to employees’ discontent.
“Our previous canteen operator offered terrible food. But when I went to the canteen in its own headquarters, the food was so much better and even much cheaper,” an employee said.
The National Commission for Corporate Partnership, which barred large firms from entering the restaurant business last week, said it had no plans to consider similar restrictions on conglomerates’ canteen business.
“We start reviewing a certain trade (to determine whether big companies should stay out of it) once we receive plausible proposals,” said Lee Woo-yong, head of public relations at the state-funded panel.
“But rather surprisingly, we have not received any complaints on the cafeteria business.”