Pork gets proud place in 2017’s gift hampers

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Pork gets proud place in 2017’s gift hampers

It’s pork’s turn to be the star in holiday gift sets. Squeezed out: premium hanwoo or Korean beef.

With the implementation of an anti-graft law that bans exchanges of gifts over 50,000 won ($41.61) by people in selected professions, humble pork - once considered not good enough for gift hampers - has emerged as a suitable beef substitute in upcoming Lunar New Year’s holiday gift sets.

Lotte Department Store and its website Lotte.com said Monday they are introducing assorted cuts of pork in holiday gift sets for the first time this year.

“It was unimaginable before to present assorted pork as gifts in a department store but we decided to go for it considering the not-so-favorable economic situation at the moment,” said a Lotte Department Store spokesman. “It will be a good alternative to those who are affected by anti-graft law and can’t buy anything that cost more than 50,000 won.”

A gift package sold for 49,000 won will include pork belly and pork neck, the preferred cuts for Korean dining tables.

Lotte.com will take reservations for pork holiday gift sets for the first time starting Thursday. The new items include ribs and front hocks of black pork for boiling and assorted pork parts for grilling. Prices don’t exceed 50,000 won.

Hyundai Department Store has added marinated pork to its holiday gift lineup for the first time this year. The gift item will be a collaboration with 45-year-old pork barbecue restaurant in Seongbuk-dong, central Seoul, and will sell for 50,000 won, according to the department store.

Shinsegae Department Store has added two types of salted mackerel, both of which cost 50,000 won per pack, to its holiday gift list. Expensive seafood such as dried yellow corvina or abalone were preferred gift items during national holidays in the past. Shinsegae said it decided to add more affordable items to the list considering the current political and social sentiment.

Hanwoo sales are slumping due to the new law and the sagging economy. According to E-Mart, Korea’s leading discount chain, hanwoo sales only accounted for 45 percent of all beef sales this year as of Dec. 22. The rest of the balance was sales of imported beef.

Last year, hanwoo sales accounted for 51.8 percent.

In order to regain some momentum, E-Mart has established its own hanwoo aging center in Gwangju, Gyeonggi to produce dry- or wet-aged hanwoo.

BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]
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