Shinsegae Food, the food business arm of South Korean retail giant Shinsegae Group, has launched a vegan SPAM-style product under its newly announced Better Food Inc subsidiary. The canned ham is made of soy and vegetable oil and does not contain sodium nitrite, often used to create the pink color of processed meats.
Last week, the company announced plans to create Better Foods, Inc., a wholly owned US subsidiary. The Better Meat line debuted in 2021, going on to supply Starbucks Korea with plant-based ham and arugula sandwiches. The US-based Better Foods will see $6 million of investment from Shinsegae in the immediate future, with an additional $4M allocated for the first half of 2023. Intended to boost Shinsegae’s competitiveness in the meat alternatives market, the US operations will support R&D and global expansion of Better Meat.
The US subsidiary is set to officially open next month. Shinsegae’s canned ham becomes the second vegan SPAM style product after OmniPork’s famous Luncheon meat, which is sold in McDonald’s China as well as across Asia and Europe.
First invented by US-based Hormel Foods Corporation in 1937, pork SPAM is mainly consumed in North America and is very widely consumed across Asia, especially in South Korea where it is seen as a delicacy and is often given to family and friends in gift presentation packs for traditional Chuseok holiday, the Korean lunar new year.
Speaking to The Korea Herald, Song Hyun-Suk, CEO of Shinsegae Food, points out: “Hormel Foods’ Spam has dominated the global canned ham market since 1937. But in almost 100 years, we have become the first to make a vegan canned ham that has almost the same taste and texture.”
From the first of August, Shinsegae Food will begin selling its plant-based canned ham at The Better, its deli restaurant in the South Korean capital Seoul.