Sweet treat craze over dessert market in KoreaUpdated: 2014-03-14 22:03:17 (KST)
Chocolate cones filled with choco-balls, a pearly whipped-cream cake with raspberries on top and itty-bitty bite-sized candies
This is but a small sample of the types of desserts that are literally selling like hotcakes in Seoul these days.
At a department store in the capital, long lines form in front of this dessert shop as soon as it opens, and everyone is waiting for a taste of sweet bliss.
"Only those who are prepared to stand in line and wait at least half an hour will be able to satisfy their sweet tooth. This particular shop usually closes around mid-day after all their products have sold out."
"I hear that this dessert is popular, which makes me want to stand in line and wait. I came out a little early so I could get a piece before the store runs out."
These customers are hardly alone -- desserts are the latest food craze in Korea.
Though some desserts range in price from four U.S. dollars all the way up to 50, consumers don't seem hesitant to open up their wallets.
"Sometimes I spend less on my meal and just get desserts. Because these are a little pricey for the size, I sometimes even have dessert instead of a meal."
Sales at this particular department store chain came in at nearly 84 million dollars in 2013,… surpassing sales of pre-made meals.
Korea's leading dessert cafe franchise, which is owned by one of nation's conglomerates,.. says its business has grown by 20 percent annually on average since it opened in 2002.
Mom-and-pop stores are also getting in on the act.
Experts say the rise in demand for desserts is partially due to the economic downturn, as consumers crave sweet treats to lift their spirits in a sluggish economy.
"More people are willing to spend extra on things they categorize as valuable or worthy enough to invest in, such as cake, while also demanding lower prices on daily necessities, such as green peppers or potatoes."
As with the rapidly evolving market, the turnover rate for the department store's dessert shops is extremely high.
The shops are on short leases that only last six to nine months, which puts more pressure on the industry to come up with the next popular dessert item.
Shin Se-min, Arirang News.
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