Ice cubes have become a major money maker for convenience stores in Korea that are available in wide choices of containers from bags to takeout cup.
According to data analyzed and compiled by CU, one of the country’s leading convenience store chain operators, sales of bagged or cupped ice cubes at convenience stores nationwide more than doubled from 40 billion won ($35 million) in 2013 to 82 billion won last year. Sales are estimated to reach 120 billion won by the end of 2017.
The pace of growth accelerated amid growing role of convenient stores as ice source.
Sales in the first quarter grew 43.3 percent on year, compared with 33.2 percent growth in full 2016 and 21.7 percent in 2015.
Such rapid growth in ice cube sales across the country’s convenient stores coincide with popularity of cheaper coffee available at corner stores, market experts analyzed. Since the advent of liquid coffee in packets by convenient store chains in 2009, the demand for ice cubes has also soared.
Against this backdrop, CU plans to beef up its ice retail network and provide diverse ice products to satisfy customers’ different tastes this year. It has already added more suppliers to its network to ready for another sizzling heat that could hit the country this year following last year.
By Park Eun-jin
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]