The largest pastry fair took place in Paris for its first edition. From June 15 to 17, more than 50,000 visitors came to Porte de Versailles. While the attractiveness for French pastry is still present, how is the baking and pastry market in South Korea?
French bakery/pastry market in South Korea
The French pastry market is booming in Seoul. French know-how radiates and pleases most Koreans. Introduced in the 19th century, this market is exploding today in the Korean market. Besides, the big bakery chains like Paris Baguette and Tous les jours, independent bakeries are omnipresent in the Korean landscape. There are now more than 17,000 bakeries in South Korea. The word “bread” has a special meaning in the country of calm morning. Indeed, it includes croissants, muffins, cakes, pie and so on : the french touch flagrances.
Many French pastry chefs move to Seoul. There is Gontran Cherrier and Joel Vial (Bread Show) in Itaewon (expats district) or Guillaume bakery in Cheongdam.
In addition, there are many Korean pastry chefs who were trained in France. Therefore, they offer pastries, comparable to the French quality. This is the case of Park Joon-Woo, Korean pastry chef trained in France and manager of “Aux Grands Verres” in Seochon.
Reasons for the success of bakery-pastry
First of all, the success comes from the popularity of France in South Korea. The baguette is one of the symbols of France for Koreans. They link bread to French chic and lifestyle.
Thus, the “Pain tour” has a great success. It consists of a tour of bakeries in a district and taste the specialties. Selfies and influencers of Pain tour are also on social networks. In Seoul, the ideal neighborhood like Mangwon for Pain tour blooms.
Nowadays, Koreans are open to other cultures. They travel more than before and like to discover novelties. Their tastes and flavors have changed. However, hybrid recipes are needed to fully satisfy the palate of Korean consumers.
When we enter a bakery, we observe a mix of cultures. Red bean bread, butter sandwich or salmon croissant teriyaki are part of it. Koreans seek the appearance of Western products but adapted to local tastes. And that’s what works.
Another perception of bread in Korea: the snack. Bread gives a feeling of satiety. Simple to eat, it is very convenient for Koreans. In a country known for hard-working, Korean are often very busy. The bread is therefore seen as a snack during the afternoon and not as an accompaniment during a meal as seen in France.
Expats: an interesting target
Expats are the second target of bakers. Especially since the number of expatriates and students in university exchange are constantly increasing. In Korea, little French pleasures are missing very quickly.
Nostalgia and perception of French products are growing. During the first days, the cultural shock can be hard and tough to handle. So they look for familiar products and find them in these bakeries. Therefore there is a real interest in conquering this market.
This Western attractiveness, the Koreanized recipes and the craze of tower breads Pain tour perfectly illustrate the success of the bakery market in Korea. Attractive in the Korean market, it is more than profitable to penetrate it. However, being in this market requires taking into account the consumption habits and recipes of pastries different from ours.