Homegrown beverages take off

[As Heard in North Korea]
Unification Media Group  |  2017-04-13 16:36

"As Heard in North Korea" articles contain the content of Unification Media Group [UMG] radio broadcasts into North Korea. UMG is a consortium created by Radio Free Chosun [RFC] and Open Radio for North Korea [ONK], shortwave radio stations targeting North Korea; The Daily NK, an internet periodical reporting on all aspects of North Korea; and OTV, an NGO-based internet television channel.

It's time for another session of Market Trends. It seems that beverages are taking a bigger share of the market these days. We'll delve deeper into the details with Daily NK reporter Kang Mi Jin.

As the weather turns warmer with spring, many people are stocking up on refreshments to combat the dry weather and stay hydrated. Today, Id like to talk about the sweet beverages for sale in North Korea that are actually replacing Chinese-made beverages as the most popular choices. 

I personally like fruits such as oranges, apples and peaches and I know some of my fellow North Koreans feel the same. South Koreans call fruit-flavored drinks "juice" while northerners call them sweet-flavored water. Fruit-flavored drinks are basically sweetened drinks with a hint of fruit flavors such as apples, oranges or peach. The domestic variants in North Korea are increasingly preferred for their refreshing taste as opposed to the concentrated artificial fruit-flavored drinks made in China.

I've actually tried some of the beverages and must admit that due to the pleasant fragrance of fruits, it's no wonder that North Korean-manufactured beverages like this are overtaking Chinese-made drinks in the market. The only drawback is the lack of information on the ingredients and safety standards on the containers.

Can could provide a more detailed comparison between the ingredients in North Korean and South Korean drinks? 

I'll start with my favorite aloe vera and grape drinks. Aloe vera drinks are labelled as containing aloe vera gel powder, traces of aloe vera juice components, calcium lactate, calcium carbonate, gellan gum, vitamin C, ginseng sodium, a concoction of blue gardenia and carthamus yellow and ethyl alcohol. Grape flavored drinks consist of purified grape extract, corn syrup, citric acid, grape flavored concentrate, and enzymatically-modified stevia glucosyl. 

Some residents are particular about ingredients and labelling such detailed information helps to ease the fears of consumers. However, some North Korean apple and peach drinks do not contain such detailed information. For instance, an orange-flavored drink was simply labeled as "orange-flavored carbonate acid with sugar," while a peach-flavored drink was labeled as "peach flavor and sugar composite." I feel that North Korea still has a long way to go in addressing its problems with labeling. 

As storage and safety information is sorely lacking on the labels, these drinks may not be suitable for sale in South Korea, although they are selling like hot cakes in the North.

So while it is common practice to publish the ingredients, expiry dates and precautionary advice in South Korea, I guess its different in the North.

Yes, I bought an aloe vera drink on my way to work today and it says right here on the label that "this product in accordance with the fair trade commission is subject to exchange or refunds, precipitates may be visible, and aloe vera concentrates may not be uniform so please shake well before drinking."

It also stated that after opening the container, it has to be sealed properly and stored in a refrigerated environment, with even the contact numbers of the customer service desk included as well. For products from the North, information is labeled more simply and even expiry dates are labeled broadly as between 6 months to a year and only the production dates are labeled, imparting a much less customer friendly feel. 

Despite all that, I hear that North Korean drinks are selling very well up there. What are the reasons and what are the prices like?

Actually, the expectations and requirements of consumers have increased due to the expansion of the markets. For instance, many young women who have watched Korean drama series are approaching tailors to modify their clothes to match South Korean TV stars. However, there is still a long way to go yet. In stark contrast to the South, where an open market economy has been in place for decades, the living standards in the North need to increase dramatically before they will even bother to consider health considerations for food.

In Pyongyang, a 500 ml drink costs around 1600 KPW, 1500 KPW in Sinuiju, 1650 KPW in Hyesan, 1700 KPW in Pukchon, 2000 KPW in Hoeryong,, and 1870 KPW  in Wonsan. 

*Edited by Lee Farrand

 
Advertisements, links with an http address and inappropriate language will be deleted.

2017.06.28
Won Pyongyang Sinuiju Hyesan
Exchange Rate 8,070 8,050 8,095
Rice Price 5,800 6,000 5,900