Focus

CJ CheilJedang Takes Initiative in Creating an HMR Boom in China with Bibigo and Gourmet

2019.03.04

- We are expanding our portfolio of frozen foods that span Korean and Western side dishes through the Bibigo and Gourmet brands following the success of Bibigo Mandu.

- By offering quality-assured products that deliver the flavors of famous restaurants based on our R&D and manufacturing competence, we are winning over Chinese consumers and reinforcing our presence in the Chinese market.

CJ CheilJedang is making inroads into China’s frozen food market in earnest with its Bibigo and Gourmet brands. We have expanded our product portfolio by showcasing cooked frozen foods that include Korean and Western side dishes following Bibigo Mandu. We plan to drive the qualitative and quantitative development of China’s frozen food market on the back of Bibigo and Gourmet just as we have advanced Korea’s frozen food market.

China’s frozen food market, estimated to be valued at about KRW 2 trillion, has recorded an average annual growth rate of 3% over the last three years and is centered on frozen dumpling products that account for approximately 40% of sales. On the contrary, hamburger steak, meatballs, and other fully cooked and frozen side dishes and snacks still record small sales numbers and have yet to form an independent product category.

However, the need for cooked frozen foods has continued to rise in the Chinese market in line with urbanization and lifestyle changes. With the generations of Balinghou (Post 80s) and Jiulinghou (Post 90s) accounting for more than half of food consumption in China and seeking out global food products based on their experiences abroad, the preference for cooked frozen foods has continued to grow at an accelerated speed.

In this context, we believe that the cooked frozen food market has potential for continued growth. As Bibigo Mandu increased its sales by targeting consumers with the need for high-quality products, we judge that we can preempt this market by showcasing quality products offered at famous restaurants based on our R&D and manufacturing competence.

In fact, the sales of Bibigo Mandu, which hovered at KRW 7 billion in 2015, dramatically rose to KRW 50 billion last year. At first, the product’s higher price and novelty acted as barriers for Chinese consumers, but Bibigo Mandu ultimately captured their trust based on CJ CheilJedang’s knowhow, technological prowess, and effort to adapt to the local palate.

CJ CheilJedang showcased tteokgalbi (minced, seasoned, and grilled beef ribs), hamburger steak, and meatballs under the Bibigo and Gourmet brands, which have already dominated the Korean frozen food market, in a strategic manner. About KRW 10 billion was invested in the installation of pertinent facilities at the Liaocheng production plant manufacturing dumplings, and products differentiated by their juicy, tender flavors and distinctive quality were achieved by applying our manufacturing skills and expertise.

A comprehensive consumer survey was conducted in advance to meticulously prepare a product lineup that can captivate the hearts of Chinese consumers. In accordance with the findings of the survey, which pointed to the preference of young consumers for Western-style sauces, we released products containing tomato sauce and cheese and cream sauce. We also added a product with arrabbiata sauce made with Korean gochujang (red chili paste) to appeal to Chinese consumers who prefer spicy foods.

We have high expectations for our new products as local consumers gave positive reviews during sampling events conducted immediately after their release at large retailers (“The meat tastes as if it were cooked on site”, “The fragrance and flavor of the sauce is exceptional”, etc.). Local consumers also gave high marks for the convenience of the products, saying “they are highly convenient home meal solutions.” 

We plan to further penetrate into China’s frozen food market by showcasing cooked frozen foods with differentiated flavors and quality alongside Bibigo Mandu and increase the sales of frozen foods to KRW 200 billion within three years, while also positioning Bibigo and Gourmet as the two prime-mover brands in China’s frozen food market.

Kang Jun-seok, Head of the Frozen Food Marketing Department at CJ CheilJedang Food China, said, “In the past, the Korean frozen food market was also centered on frozen dumplings. However, the cooked frozen food market has continued to grow and now outpaces the dumpling market. We anticipate that the Chinese market will follow suit. We will captivate the local palate by releasing a variety of premium-quality Korean and Western food products based on our technological prowess.”