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[Exclusive] CJ crafting fish-shaped Korean-style dumplings

Korean food giant denies developing 'bungeoppang mandu' product

By Kan Hyeong-woo

Published : March 15, 2023 - 15:24

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Bungeoppang (123rf) Bungeoppang (123rf)

CJ CheilJedang is developing a new Korean-style dumpling, or "mandu," in the shape of "bungeoppang" -- a popular fish-shaped waffle generally filled with red bean paste or cream -- as the food giant looks to expand its future portfolio, according to a source familiar with the matter, Wednesday.

The source told The Korea Herald that the food giant has recently completed an internal review of the bungeoppang mandu product in a pop-up store format at the company’s headquarters in central Seoul, adding that the newly developed mandu received mixed feedback from employees who had a chance to sample the product.

According to the source, the new product combines bungeoppang’s waffle pastry with Bibigo's traditional mandu filling made of ground pork, tofu, "japchae" or sweet potato noodles and a variety of vegetables.

Although the new product is a type of mandu, the source said it is being prepared to be released under the bakery category of the food giant’s Gourmet brand instead of its global food brand, Bibigo.

“(The bungeoppang mandu) is expected to be launched in Korea first. It could be added to Bibigo’s mandu lineup for overseas markets later,” the source said, noting that no specific timeline for the new product’s release has been decided.

Bibigo has been aggressively expanding its market presence across the globe with mandu leading the way along with other food items dubbed as “global strategic products,” such as kimchi, Korean sauces, ready-cooked rice and Korean-style fried chicken.

CJ CheilJedang logged record-high numbers last year with a revenue of 18.8 trillion won ($14.4 billion) and an operating profit of 1.27 trillion won on the back of strong output from overseas food sales. The company’s global food revenue surpassed 5 trillion won for the first time as it accounted for 47 percent of the total food sales, the highest proportion in the history of the firm.

Bibigo’s mandu products played a crucial role as the products' US sales accounted for 66 percent of global food sales last year by maintaining a 40 percent market share during the period, leading all dumpling products sold through grocery channels.

Already holding food-producing footholds in major regions across the world including Germany, the US and Vietnam, CJ CheilJedang earlier this year laid out its goal of expanding the Asian-Pacific, European and North American markets this year. The food giant said it will begin the expansion by entering five new countries -- Canada, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia -- this year.

A CJ CheilJedang spokesperson said that although sampling of the bungeoppang mandu product had taken place, the company is not in the process of developing it into an actual product.