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World Cup Soccer Behind South Korean Chicken Boom

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Korea's largest poultry producer, the Harim Group, announced yesterday that it would be buying "nearly all the assets" of bankrupt Delaware chicken producer Allen Family Foods for "about $48 million plus the value of the company's inventory, which has not been determined," according to USA Today.

"Through our knowledge of Asian consumer preferences, we plan to expand product offerings to include premium, value-added products that can be sold throughout the United States and Asia," Harim Group Chairman Hong Kuk Kim said in a statement.

Poultry demand has increased dramatically in South Korea, which is apparently due to "the country's success[es] in the World Cup soccer tournament," leading to an "increase Korean's appetite for chicken, which is often served at homes and bars during big matches."

In 2006, the Korean Chicken Food Service Association told, "Gateway to the Global Poultry Industry," that as long as the South Korean team remained in the tournament, the citizenry would "consume over 1.8 million fried chickens per day -- 2.5 times the national daily average."

Fortunately for the chicken industry -- slightly less so for the chickens themselves -- Korea has maintained its voracious chicken habit, quickly overtaking pork as the country's favorite meat.

Last year, Korea's JoongAng Daily newspaper confirmed that "the industry can thank the World Cup in particular, which increased Koreans’ appetite for chicken," having earlier cited a survey by discount retailer Lotte Mart, which found that "57 percent of Koreans prefer deep-fried chicken over other snacks while watching football," and

In June of 2010, the manager of a Seoul chicken restaurant explained to The Korea Times just how much of an extra boost the industry sees when a big game takes place.

"Korea will take on Uruguay this Saturday. It will kick off at 11 p.m., the right time for people to order fried chicken," he said. "We expect orders to be inundated on the day to boost our bottom lines."

The Korean team can expect an entirely new group of fans -- there are 2,400 Allen Family Foods employees in Delaware, Maryland, and North Carolina banking on their continued success.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.