Popularity of instant rice products are rising steadily in South Korea despite sharp drops in overall consumption of the staple grain, industry data showed Sunday.
Sales figures by E-Mart, the country's largest hypermarket chain, showed demand for rice dropped 14 percent on-year in the January-August period of this year, but sales for ready to eat products jumped 17 percent.
The company, in particular, said sales of so-called home meal replacement (HMR) products that are very easy to prepare surged 44 percent on-year. HMRs sold here have rice, assortments of soups, and fried sides and main dishes.
E-Mart said such trends reflect growth of single or two-person households. Such small family units tend to prefer eating easily prepared meals.
The rise in easy to eat rice products and meals, meanwhile, comes as sales of the grain have fallen off with each passing year.
Data showed that annual per capita consumption of rice that stood at 78.8 kilograms in 2006, dropped 21.4 percent to 61.9 kg last year. These numbers are far smaller than 130 kg of rice consumed by the average South Korean in 1984.
At the present pace, per capita consumption could well fall below 60 kg for the first time ever this year. (Yonhap)