South Korean food group Nongshim Co. and Japanese group Ajinomoto are to build a soup-powder factory near Seoul through their new joint venture.

The new plant will be built in Pyeongtaek, 70km south of the South Korean capital. It will manufacture instant soup product under Ajinomoto’s Vono brand.

The companies want to start selling the products next year.

In December, Ajinomoto announced the establishment of a new production company with Nongshim. Ajinomoto own 51% of the venture, with Nongshim owning the rest. 

The selling of the soup will be handled by Nongshim, which has worked with Ajinomoto in South Korea for more than a decade.

Ajinomoto Co. opened an office in Seoul in 1983. Twenty years later, it set up Ajinomoto Korea,
which handles the selling of seasonings to processed food manufacturers and foodservice operators.

Since 2006, Nongshim has sold Vono-branded seasonings on behalf of Ajinomoto in South Korea.

Ajinomoto already exports dry soups to South Korea. It said the dry soup market in South Korea is worth around KRW58bn and has been “growing steadily”, with a solid compound annual growth rate of 7% from 2014 to 2016. 

The company said the “single-serving dry soup category” accounts for about 40% of the market.

“Its annual growth rate of 26% is driving the growth of the market as a whole. The Vono brand has captured a predominant share of more than 70% of sales in this category,” Ajinomoto said in December. 

“Per capita consumption of single-serving dry soups in South Korea is 0.6 servings per year, about one-tenth the level in Japan. However, the market is expected to expand further, backed by growing demand for bread at breakfast in recent years and rising needs for simpler dishes due to increases in single-person households and working women.”