For years, the demise of the hamburger has been widely predicted, and in Korea, a local rival – the increasingly popular gimbap – is indeed challenging the American favourite.

Convenience remains the overriding trend in Korea as in many other markets, but fastfood no longer simply means hamburgers. Korean-style sandwiches and the triangular snack gimbap are rising in popularity both at fastfood restaurants and convenience stores, reports the Korea Herald.

CJ Foodvill’s takeaway division Delcucina sold on average one million won (US$844.80) worth of sandwiches each day in January and February of this year, up 10% from the same period last year. Sandwiches now account for 30% of Delcucina’s overall turnover, and product developers are exploring new sandwiches to add to the menu.

The LG25 convenience store chain said that sales of gimbap and local-style sandwiches at one branch in Yeoksam rose by an impressive 47.9% and 26.2% respectively in January this year, compared with the year-ago period. This growth appears to have come at the expense of hamburgers, sales of which plummeted by 95%.

The trend is forcing hamburger chains to innovate to boost sluggish sales, but this is fraught with difficulty. McDonald’s Korea reported sales revenue at its branches slump by an average of 9.5% last year compared with 2001. The company rolled out a new salad item on its menu, but put the launch on hold citing overlapping menu items with its rivals.