Demand for dosirak surges as Korean consumers turn to budget, simple meals

2023.02.20 10:08:02 | 2023.02.20 10:58:02

[Photo by Han Joo-hyung]이미지 확대

[Photo by Han Joo-hyung]

Dosirak, or single-portion boxed meals, are becoming hugely popular among consumers in South Korea, especially office workers and single-person households, as they come in a variety of options and usually a price of under 10,000 won ($7.7).

“My colleagues and I take away dosirak about twice a week and have them in the office,” said an office worker in his 20s. “Dosirak is the only meal you can get for between 5,000 and 6,000 won nowadays.”

Students and office workers that face pressure from rising food cost are increasingly relying on dosirak for meals. They are also popular among single-person households, which the number has grown by more than 4 million in the last two decades in Korea.

The surge in demand for dosirak comes as manufacturers also offer meals in a greater diversity that ranges from vegan lunch boxes targeting fitness-conscious consumers to high-end lunch boxes offered in partnership with popular restaurants.

Dosirak sales at convenience stores have increased as much as 41 percent in 2022 from a year ago. Sales have grown more than 20 percent this year.

Kurly Inc., operator of a local dawn delivery service, saw its sales of daily-produced dosirak jump 46 percent last year. The local dosirak market including those sold at convenience stores and by franchises is estimated to reach 1 trillion won.

Dosirak has emerged as one of the best-sellers at convenience stores amid soaring demand.

GS25, a Korean convenience store chain, sold 200,000 “Hye-ja” stir-fried pork dosirak in just three days after launch to overtake others like Cass beer, Chamisul soju, and Binggrae banana-flavored milk as a best-selling item.

The dosirak craze is not limited to Korea. Bentos are also very common in Japan and convenience stores are in a competition to offer cheap meals priced at about 2,000 won.

By Chung Seul-gi, Song Kyung-eun, Hong Hae-jin, and Choi Jieun

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