High-Fat Diet Boosts Butter, Pork Belly, and Cheese Sales both in Korea and Koreatown

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The high-fat diet, which has become popular in South Korea, is now one of the trending topics in Southern California. A woman is purchasing butter at a Koreatown market.
The high-fat diet, which has become popular in South Korea, is now one of the trending topics in Southern California. A woman is purchasing butter at a Koreatown market.

The high-fat, low-car diet has become popular among the younger generation in South Korea and it is now making its way to Los Angeles Koreatown. As a result, high-fat food products, including butter, pork belly and cheese, are selling rapidly.

South Korea’s major TV network MBC aired a documentary centering on the efficiency of the weight loss diet on the premise of consuming less carbs, but higher fat. Since the documentary last aired, the science behind the theory spread virally through social media, prompting a significantly higher demand for high-fat, low-carb food products.

The trend has been so viral that some Korean markets have even run out of butter in recent weeks.

“I saw the documentary and came to buy some butter out of curiosity,” said Sae-young Kim, who was shopping at a Koreatown market. “Whenever there is a new way to go on a diet, it becomes popular among my friends and I give it a try.”

Markets in Koreatown say that since MBC aired the documentary, the sales rate of butter has more than doubled while both cheese and pork belly have also seen an increase of about 10 percent in sales.

“Seeing the demand for butter go up so high has been a rare occasion,” said Galleria Market grocery manager Scott Jeong. “But it has been a big surprise recently. It seems like the trend will continue to grow strong for a while.”

Unlike high-fat products, however, food products such as rice, which is rich in carbs, have not been among the popular items this fall. But because rice has been a traditional staple food for Koreans, its sale rate has not been deterred.

“We’ve been seeing higher sales of pork belly and neck,” said H Mart’s Torrance branch manager Ju-yeol Park. “Even when we promote other dumping, shrimp and pork dishes with taste tests, we’re using butter as a main ingredient to introduce our customers who may not be familiar with the recent trend.”

However, health specialists warned that while high-fat, low-carb diet may pay dividends in the short term, it is not suitable for those who are aiming for a healthy lifestyle in the long run.

By Sung Yeon Lee