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Processed food satisfaction rate keeps falling: report

May 13, 2024 - 15:44 By Yoon Min-sik
A man shops at an E-Mart in Seoul, April 21. (Yonhap)

South Korean consumers’ satisfaction with processed food dropped in 2023 compared to the year before, a report showed Monday, marking a decline in the price category for the third-straight year.

The Korea Rural Economic Institute conducted a survey of 2,000 households across the country between August and October last year, asking them to rate their satisfaction with processed foods on a scale of 1 to 5.

The respondents gave a 3.6, after marking 3.9 for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022. The score was down in every category, which included price, taste, safety, nutrition, convenience and variety.

The most notable on-year drop was in the safety category, from 3.9 to 3.5. But consumers were the least content with the price, which scored only 3.3 and has also dropped every year since 3.6 in 2020, with 3.5 in 2021 and 3.4 in 2022.

The recent hike in the prices of processed foods in the country may have attributed to such low levels of satisfaction among consumers. The overall price of processed food rose 6.8 percent in 2023 compared to the year before.

It had marked a relatively moderate increase in 2020, up 1.4 percent from the year before, and in 2021, up by 2.1 percent. But in 2022, the price soared by 7.8 percent compared to the year before.

In terms of which type of processed food has most affected the overall cost of shopping, 25.5 percent of the respondents picked noodles, while 14.4 percent picked dairy products. Another 5.8 percent picked alcoholic beverages.

The most respondents -- 40.6 percent -- bought processed food once a week, followed by 26.7 percent who bought it twice a week, and 23.9 percent who did so two to three times a week. Another 6.5 percent bought processed food once a month, while 1.2 percent did so less than once a month, and 1 percent bought it every day.

"Once a week" was the most popular response back in the 2020 survey, in which the response was picked by 50.2 percent of those surveyed.

The reports also showed the No. 1 criterion for South Korea's consumers to be taste when buying processed foods, picked by 27.4 percent of the respondents. It was followed by price (19.6 percent) and quality (16.5 percent).