Spam was most purchased Lunar New Year’s gift in S. Korea last year

February 4, 2015
Spam gift sets are hot in Korea at this time of the year. (Newsis)

Spam gift sets are hot in Korea at this time of the year. (Newsis)

Koreans love Spam or canned pork products. At no other time is this phenomenon more evident than around the Lunar New Year (Seollal), when the canned meat is sold in ornate gift sets.

According to a report released Wednesday by Nielsen Korea, Spam was the most favored Lunar New Year’s gift last year.

The report was based on sales at major retailers and their affiliated stores during the Seollal holiday period.

Boxes with canned ham, tuna or cooking oil made up 72 percent of all gift sets purchased during the period. Of these, 34.1 percent were canned ham products. Spam has topped the list of gifts since Nielsen started compiling the report in 2012.

After the 1950-53 Korean War, Spam was smuggled into the Korean market, along with coffee, gum, chocolate milk and other products. In 1987, CJ Corp bought the rights from Hormel and began producing its own version of Spam.

Among non-food Seollal gifts, the most sought item was shampoo.

This made up 32.6 percent of non-food gift sets in 2013 and 39.2 percent in 2014. The second most popular item, toothpaste, made up 30.4 percent in 2013 but became less popular last year at 26.1 percent. Hair conditioner (12.6 percent) and soap (8.8 percent) followed on the list.

The best-selling price range of gift sets was 20,000 won (38.9 percent). Cheaper gifts costing less than 10,000 were mostly found to be non-food items.

“With the domestic economy in a slump as Korea scrapes the bottom of the recently-released global consumer confidence index, the traditional holiday season can serve as momentum to revitalize the retail industry,” Cho Dong-hee, executive director at Nielsen, said.

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