By Nam Hyun-woo
Bread and dairy products' consumption will likely surpass that of rice this year as Koreans eat more bread and milk, government data showed Thursday.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the country's per capita dairy products consumption amounted to 70.7 kilograms in 2011, up 10 percent from 64.2 kilograms the previous year. A stronger demand for fermented milk and cheese products boosted the increase.
The total production of bread has also increased. The bakery market size stood at 4.69 trillion won ($4.21 billion) as of 2011, up from 4.12 trillion won in 2010 and 3.58 trillion won in 2009.
It marks about 15.5 percent annual growth.
The country's leading bakery franchises, such as Paris Baguette of SPC Group and Tous Les Jours of CJ Group, also saw their sales rising to 2.44 trillion won in 2011 from 1.76 trillion won from 2009.
Meanwhile, the country's consumption of rice, a staple for many Koreans, has been plummeting.
According to a report by Statistic Korea, per capita rice consumption more than halved to 71 kilograms in 2011 from 156 kilograms three decades ago.
Though per capita consumption of rice remains larger than that of dairy products in 2011, experts say dairy products will likely outpace rice this year in terms of consumption.
"As the number of people living alone and women working outside of their home increases, more Koreans tend to eat convenient instant foods, breads or dairy products rather than cooking meals," an official from a bakery firm said.