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Brand set to expand offerings in wellness category in 2024 Brand Awareness Remains Strong in Both Home and Global Market Hetbahn, the popular cooked rice brand from CJ CheilJedang, achieved record sales last year and maintained its lead in the cooked rice market, the company announced February 26. Sales of the flagship brand surged to a record high of 850.3 billion KRW (646.2 million USD), representing a 4.3% increase over the previous year, with higher sales seen in both international markets and at home in Korea. Sales in Korea increased 1.4%, while sales outside the peninsula soared 21%, and the fourth quarter brought a remarkable 9% year-over-year growth in global sales. Hetbahn continued to dominate the offline market in Korea. Its cumulative market share for the country’s offline segment surpassed 68% last year — the highest figure in three years and a 1.8%p increase from the previous year. The brand’s flagship product, Cooked White Hetbahn, achieved a year-on-year market share increase of 3.4%p and held 66.4% of Korea’s market. As Korea’s premier cooked rice brand, Hetbahn enjoys high brand awareness and remains competitive in the domestic market, thanks in part to its in-house rice polishing structure, a unique hygiene management system and advanced packaging technology. Success of Star Items, Online Distribution Channels and Global Outreach Hetbahn doubled its sales in the wellness category, with choices such as Hetbahn Konjac Rice and Sotbahn proving especially popular among health-conscious consumers. Hetbahn Konjac Rice combines the chewy texture and low calorie content of konjac with the exquisiteness of Chunjihyang rice, a premium-grade short-grain white rice that is specially bred for its aromatic flavor. Hetbahn Sotbahn, available in a variety of prepared meal options, uses vacuum pressure technology to maximize nutrition by mimicking the process of cooking rice in a pot. The brand also made efforts to broaden its online distribution channels. Sales through Naver, Korea’s most popular search engine, recorded 39.1 billion KRW (29.7 million USD), three times more than the previous year. The first batch of Hetbahn Golden Queen Rice, developed in collaboration with the leading e-commerce platform Market Kurly, sold out within three weeks of its launch. As of the end of December, customers had purchased 67,000 boxes of the new product, with six 210-gram containers to a box. The launch of Eco-Friendly Hetbahn through Korea’s top distribution channels such as E-Mart, SSG.com and GMarket further fueled the brand’s growth. The so-called Q-commerce (‘quick commerce’) platforms such as Baemin B Mart made it even more convenient to order Hetbahn products by cutting delivery time to half an hour. Sales of Hetbahn skyrocketed at CJ CheilJedang’s online store, CJ The Market, which brought in 23.8 billion KRW (18 million USD) — a 79% increase from the previous year. The total online sales of Hetbahn products saw a year-on-year increase of 17% in the fourth quarter. Sales in foreign markets also increased, notably through mainstream U.S. outlets such as Costco, which saw Cooked White Hetbahn sales rise 25% year-on-year. International consumers left positive reviews and made repeat purchases, saying they appreciated the superior taste. Brand Set to Expand Offerings in Wellness Category The plan this year is to sustain the robust growth by expanding offerings in the wellness category and promoting Hetbahn as a base for home-cooked meals. In the pipeline are cooked rice with black soybeans and multigrain rice. And the sales of a product designed to minimize blood sugar spikes after a meal will be expanded further. Lim Dong-hyuk, who oversees the processed rice business for CJ CheilJedang, expressed satisfaction with the brand’s performance. “Despite challenging market conditions, Hetbahn won over global consumers by offering a wide variety of delicious, convenient products that suit their tastes and preferences,” he said. “We will continue to develop foods with a distinctive taste and quality, showcasing various products that meet the high standards of consumers.”
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