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For steamy summer, some hot new items

June 06,2011
Caffe Bene’s fruit bingsu
With higher temperatures than normal expected for the coming months, food companies have been flooding the market with products identified with the summer. Some are raising prices while others are increasing the variety of their offerings - but all are expecting large revenues.

Few products are more associated with summer than patbingsu, or shaved ice topped with sweet red bean paste and assorted toppings.

This year, firms have tried to infuse greater variety into the seasonal treat, with local bakery franchise start-up Bread&Co. releasing an Espresso Bingsu with a topping of cornflakes dipped in coffee syrup. Local restaurant chain BRCD introduced Wine Bingsu served with red wine-based syrup coupled with cranberries and blueberries.

Although food franchises say demand for patbingsu has not flagged, the high sticker prices of some new offerings are threatening to leave consumers in the cold. Baskin Robbins’ three new patbingsu releases have prices 36 percent higher than previous products, jumping from 5,000 won ($4.65) for 480 grams to 6,800 won for 704 grams.

The company says it’s actually a better bargain. “Considering that several people like to share a bowl of patbingsu, we increased the volume but actually lowered the price by 7 percent per gram,” said a Baskin Robbins representative.

Domestic coffee franchise Caffe Bene recently released a Fruit Bingsu costing a whopping 12,000 won per cup, about 20 to 30 percent more than its two other patbingsu products.

“It seems a bit extreme for patbingsu, whose main ingredient is ice, to exceed 10,000 won in price,” said Choi Ji-yeon, a 29-year-old office worker. “It’s unfortunate that some companies seem to be making cosmetic changes and charging higher prices.”

Ice cream and beverage manufacturers are stepping up their summer marketing campaigns. With the Korea Meteorological Association forecasting higher average temperatures from June to August, Lotte Chilsung more than doubled its new beverage launches from three-four at summer’s start to 10. “Sales in May have already gone up 8 to 9 percent from last year, and we’ve gained the production capacity that can handle even skyrocketing demand.”

Lotte Confectionary has cranked up the rotation of TV advertisements for leading ice cream sellers World Cone and Snow Ice. Food firms are pushing their signature cold noodle products in time for summer. Korea Yakult has released a new seasonal cold noodle Busan Mil Men in April on top of cold noodle leader Paldo Bibim Men.


By Lee Jung-yoon [joyce@joongang.co.kr]



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