Korean Cookie Copies More Expensive than Foreign Originals

In South Korea, you can bite into a black and white cream cookie sandwich called a “Gameo”, made by the Korean company Orion. Or, you can eat Haitai’s ring of buttery Danish-style pastry cookie called a “Butter Ring”. While these imitations of foreign cookie brands may seem similar in every way, Korean consumers are angry that they are more expensive than the imported version. Protest was especially sharp after reports last week that snack contents decreasing.

Article from MB:

Domestic Cookies More Expensive than the Imported ‘Original’

Companies raised the price of snacks at the end of last year, with domestic snack brands often being more expensive than the imported snack brands.

British McVitie's  "Digestive" biscuits vs. Dr. You's "Diget" biscuits

British McVitie’s “Digestive” biscuits vs. Dr. You’s “Diget” biscuits

The cost of ingredients, labor and distribution has gone up, but it’s hard to see how the price could be more expensive than that of imported goods.

Reporter Nam Sangho compared the two–domestic snacks and imported snacks:

Brownish round biscuits made from wholewheat..

On the left side is the British original snack, the right side is the Korean domestic snack brand.

It’s not just the shape, but the ingredients used, even the name of the product is the same.

Technical cooperation has enabled this domestic company that was making the same cookies as the British originals to launch their own brand 10 years ago.

The domestic brand is more expensive than the original.

Chang-Suk Kang, a customer, said, ‘Its price is high because it is supposed to be high-end. I end up buying it for my kids, thinking it is a good product…’

We also compared other famous foreign brands with their domestic counterparts.

The crackers are the same, from the way they can be broken into three pieces, to the sandwich shape, and the cream that goes between the two pieces.

From left to right: a Kraft "Oreo", a Lotte "Sand", and an Orion "Gameo"

From left to right: a Kraft “Oreo”, a Lotte “Sand”, and an Orion “Gameo”

But the domestic brand is more expensive.

From just looking, it’s hard to tell where each of these chocolate cookies came from, but the original brand is actually the cheapest, and the domestic brand is 10-40% more expensive.

It’s hard to see why [the Korean domestic brand is more expensive] with the tariff, distribution costs, and copyright costs that go into the price of foreign goods.

SuHyun Lee, a customer, said, ‘Imported snacks are cheaper and tastier. For the similar types, imported ones seem better.’

They explain it by saying that when domestic companies import ingredients, they pay customs, but well-known large and multi-national corporations have access to raw materials, so it’s much cheaper.

Comments from Naver:

kny2****:

This is too much. Let’s boycott them. Prices continue to rise while the content decreases…Consumers are really being deceived.

chle****: [Responding to above]

I’m not going to eat snacks anymore.

sdh9****:

Both the ruling party and the opposition party do not say a thing about this kind of issue. What on earth are you guys doing? Go to the Fair Trade Commission and threaten to have them turn in their resignation if they can’t resolve it.

zipe****: [Responding to above]

It must be because the lawmakers have taken bribes from the snack companies. So they can’t bring up the issue…

desp****

This isn’t the first or second time customers are treated like pushovers in Korea. What’s new about it~

gkgk****:

Seeing this, they’ve really gone too far now…

gots****:


When I buy snacks, they are full of nitrogen. Snacks are just secondary. ㅠㅠ Such expensive nitrogen. [netizens mock snack companies by saying they only sell the nitrogen to fill the packaging.]

prep****:

Let’s buy imported snacks instead. Their deception on customers is on par with Hyundai-Kia Motors. [Netizens often accuse Hyundai of selling poorer quality cars at higher prices to domestic customers.]

blaz****:

Imported snack sales are rapidly rising. Domestic snack companies should be prepared to get owned. Consumers are already turning their back on them.

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  • lonetrey / Dan

    I don’t remember the last time I ate an Oreo ;__;

    • UserID01

      I never liked them anyhow. The chocolate just tastes artificial.

      And anyway, if the domestic knockoff brand is more expensive then… just… buy the imported original brand? I don’t get why this is an issue. It’s just snacks. It’s not even like it’s something 100% essential to your continued existence.

      • lonetrey / Dan

        Exactly. But i think some people just want to buy the domestic brand to support their nation, or perhaps buy the pricier one for percieved quality, which is why people are a bit ticked off.

        Taking advantage of people who will buy the more expensive snacks and all.

        • ?Boris

          Quite a few do buy the pricier one for percieved quality. Usually the original is best.

        • UserID01

          I’d figure that if I tried both brands, one original and one knockoff, I’d go with what tastes better to me. If the expensive one tastes better, then that’s what I’m going to get. If the cheaper one tastes better, then that’s what I’m going to get. Price doesn’t necessarily indicate quality, and for something as subjective as personal taste, it should really only take one try to figure out which one you prefer to spend your money on.

          I mean, if you find out that the more expensive brand doesn’t taste as good as the cheaper brand… why keep buying it? You shouldn’t be “fooled” more than once.

      • Guest

        They still have chocolate in there? I just taste food colouring.

        It’s so sad, so many of the name brands I remember from childhood taste awful now because they have replaced cocoa butter with palm oil! Cadbury is no longer a good brand.

        • Boris

          Cadbury was bought out by Krafts. Also, in other nations, usually there is a local manufacturer making it with the Cadbury’s name. It is why the British version of it was good (before the Kraft buy out) and the taste being different in other countries such as India for example.

        • UserID01

          Such truth, you speak it. Oreos taste like shattered dreams, and a lot of formerly delicious chocolate tastes second rate now. Cadbury is one of those brands. I’ve pretty much stopped buying American chocolates and just wait for my mother in law to send me something from Europe (Fazer chocolates are God) for my birthday and Christmas. I get chocolate twice a year and I’d better make it stretch. T_T

      • firebert5

        Maybe it’s making products in general more expensive? (I don’t currently live in Korea, so I’m just tossing ideas out there). Maybe import prices are not going down, and now knockoff brands that are more expensive are raising the general price of the products. Perhaps netizens are seeing no cheap options anymore? Can anyone who lives there verify?

    • Boris

      British people consume the most biscuits per person than any other nation (I read a few years ago). I know Oreo would like a share of the market (last I checked, it was a small share they had), but Brits usually have a biccy with a cuppa and not a class of milk. The milk and cookies thing seems to be more popular in the US.

      • Minty Badger

        Christ, it isn’t just the cost of crappy clone cookies…the price of everything seems to be on a pretty steady rise since I got here. The cost of housing is absurdly high here, despite what appears to be a surplus of it (correct me if I’m wrong…I’d love to be wrong about this)…and I don’t hear anyone raising a fuss about that. Funny how a culture can go from protesting for justice and fairness to bending over and taking whatever their corporate slave-drivers decide on a whim.

  • A Cookie story….must be a slow news day in Korea. This is the hard hitting story that makes me happy to be a Korean

  • Butsu

    Why did they feel the need to copy them in the first place? Couldn’t they at least added a little twist or something?

    • Chucky3176

      It’s the legacy of the 1980’s and 1990’s. It was required back then, for all foreign firms to joint venture with South Korean firms, if they wanted to manufacture and sell anything in South Korea. For instance, Kraft and Lotte were well known joint partners where Lotte manufactured Kraft products under license to Kraft, under Lotte brand names. Of course now things change with elimination of high import tariffs and there’s no more requirement for foreign firms to manufacture locally in Korea in order to sell them on the Korean market. So now they end up with two different brands of the same product, one locally made and one foreign made, consumers have the choice to choose one.

      • Butsu

        Okay, thanks for the clarification. Choice is always good I think, but if I want some Oreos I would probably buy the real deal. However, I certainly can’t speak for everyone.

        • Boris

          Oreos aren’t even in the same league as a proper good biscuit.

          • Butsu

            Well yeah, I said Oreos specifically for that reason.

      • David

        Except you left out the part where the Korean companies took advantage of the required partnerships to steal the technology/recipe/design of the foreign product, which is why they can sell an exact duplicate in Korea but not in France or the U.K. or America where that would be illegal. This is exactly what is happening with foreign companies in China right now, for slightly different reasons. In Korea those foreign companies took advantage of cheap labor and start up costs (and bribes to law enforcement to look the other way when they broke the law) to produce a product they could sell in Korea and more importantly overseas at lower costs and bigger profits. In China, companies (from the U.S., Europe, Japan and Korea) are doing the same thing.(while bribing politicians to ignore legal problems) and taking advantage of the cheaper labor and lax enforcement of labor, copywrite and environmental laws to make big profits (I never said all foreign companies were innocent) meanwhile China is stealing technologies from those companies also.

        • guest

          “they can sell an exact duplicate in Korea but not in France or the U.K. or America where that would be illegal”

          I see the same snacks in Korean stores in the US.

        • Yui

          Easy there with the ice cream bud, looks like Fabios getting a little plump.

          • David

            Try to contain your man crush. It looks wierd when typed for everybody to see.

  • commander

    It is widely known that imports ranging from brand-name clothes, strollers, furniture and cars are sold for outrageous prices indicating that Korean consumers are just push overs.

    In response, as for clothing many begin to make direct purchases via online transactions paying for customs fees, but foreign brands began to restrict access from Korea to their shopping websites as the sales in South Korea have plummeted sending profitability sharply lower.

    Korea’s customs service have recently decided to release prices of imported items at customs clearing in a move aimed at help consumers to avoid being ripped off in buying goods.

    Disclosing compared prices of local and imports is necessary to promote consumption benefits.

  • wnsk

    Is there a need to get angry at all? Just buy the original foreign products then. I know I would.

    You want to support local products, but don’t want to put your money where your mouth is? Not sure I’m getting it…

    • Sillian

      Because they find it ‘deceptive’? The netizens think the companies using excessive packaging are taking advantage of uninformed consumers. It is a legal issue, too.

      • wnsk

        I think it’s only a legal issue if the Korean companies use packaging and brand names that are so similar to the original products that consumers would be easily misled into thinking they ARE the original products.

        If the packaging/brand name is dissimilar, and consumers still end up buying the Korean products, then it’s probably a marketing issue. Fair game, IMO. The foreign producers should step up or change their marketing strategies.

        If the consumers aren’t actually buying the Korean products, then there is no issue at all. For the few who buy the products because they equate the higher price to better quality…it’s their business, and I don’t see anything wrong with that. People do that all the time. Who’s to say the Korean brands are inferior just because they came later?

        • Sillian

          There are regulations on excessive packaging but the companies are exploiting loopholes.

          http://www.consumuch.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=10134

          • wnsk

            Oh, I see what you meant by excessive packaging. But I think that’s a separate issue from the one in this article?

            This article mentions people are angry because the Korean products are more expensive than the foreign originals (which they obviously think ought not to be the case.) Not because of excessive packaging (which is not mentioned at all in the article.)

            P.S. Oh, I missed that line about the “snacks contents decreasing.” However I was questioning their anger for the difference in price. But maybe I read it wrong.

            Thanks for the link, by the way. I like how you just assumed I could read Korean though, hah.

          • Sillian

            Netizen comments have preceding context. The packaging problem has been the main source of complaints about Korean snack companies. Articles like this are adding salt to the wound. Imported snacks are less accessible than domestic counterparts so they have to put a bit more effort to buy them.

  • wrle

    how stupid. They are not fooling anyone.

  • Guest

    Mass production allows for a lower cost.

    Should also look into food production rules. I live in Toronto, Canada, and apples from China are cheaper than apples from Canada! But I stick to Canadian apples as much as possible, because China’s regulation on pesticide is lax.

    Some European countries have banned transfat – food produced with transfat is cheaper than foods produced with butter.

    • bang2tang

      It’s also better for earth :D

  • YourSupremeCommander

    Chinese people regularly go overseas like the USA to buy and bring back with them to China high end stuff that was originally made in China. iPhones, Bags, Shoes, Clothes… go figure.

    • Cnetizen817

      You probably know this but…in case someone else doesn’t…

      It’s cause’ those items are wayyyyy cheaper in the USA/Canada than it is in China…brand name items=$$$$$$$$$ in China…knock offs or domestic products are cheap but…having brand-name items makes you look high class soooo…yeah…*shrugs*

    • firebert5

      “Made IN China” is not the same as “Made FOR China.”

    • bang2tang

      Foxconn’s components with apple’s brain, kkk

  • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

    Suddenly I want some cookies.

    • Oh God me too, had a heart–attack two months ago and stuck in rehab ever since. Just give me a Cookie and a Glass of Coke, I swear I wont tell Anyone! For the love of god just one more cookie!

      • firebert5

        Wow. That’s rough. It would be horrible seeing something and knowing it’s available for my consumption but knowing full well I can’t safely consume it.

        • It is but i’m allowed a treat once a week,This week i’m taking the kids out for some indian food. Yum.:)

      • lonetrey / Dan

        Oof, you have my sympathies.

        • Thank you Dan, Unfortunately I have Inherited heart disease so this was my second Heart attack and I have just turned forty .My surgical and medical team were amazing,Two stents and and one angioplasty later I feel better than I have in a long time.

  • British McVitie’s “Digestive” biscuits vs. Dr. You’s “Diget” biscuits

    Take one of each dunk each one into a cup of tea the first one to break and fall into your tea is obviously the bad one.

    • firebert5

      Are you sure? If it breaks down first, doesn’t that mean it’s MORE digestive?

    • Markus Peg

      Haha, nice test, tho the taste of the fake wont compare to the real thing so eating it would also show what is the bad fake…

  • linette lee
    • firebert5

      Aw snap! I remember Combos! Those things were awesome! However, as a critique, your examples are sorely lacking in chocolate!

      • linette lee
        • firebert5

          Growing up my Dad’s favorites were always Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and York Mint Peppermint Patties. I always downed a 3lb bag of M&Ms in about 2 days, but my favorites were the Double-deckers we got in the UK and straight up, homemade fudge in central Texas. Ah, fudge…

          • linette lee

            Double deckers? I never heard of it. Reese’s peanut cups is okay. Not too bad. York mint lots of sugar I’m not a fan.
            M&M is for kids. No kids can resist. I think M&M is the most successful chocolate brand in the world. Good Job M&M.

        • UserID01

          Asian chocolates are strange. They taste very waxy and leave a kind of film on your tongue sometimes, and they seem to have a strangely high melting point. USA chocolates are okay, just a little bitter, but European and Mexican chocolates are the best I’ve tried. European chocolates are a lot smoother and have a kind of… I don’t know how to describe it other than using the word substance to them. It’s quality in every bite. Mexican chocolate, I love for its thick richness and spices. It’s amazing.

          • linette lee

            Maybe because Mexico has the climate to grow these plants. Like how they grow cocaine, cocoa beans, coffee beans, marijuana, etc. They get really fine quality plants. Their coffee taste really outstanding. I don’t know about the South East Asia countries, but I don’t think East Asia countries grow these plants. And I know East Asia
            chocolate taste horrible. I won’t even call them chocolates. Taste so sweet and lack of rich cocoa taste.
            Yeah, off course Belgium, Swiss, Italy those chocolates taste really fine. They are very pricey too. I think USA give you good quality chocolates for the little money you pay.

            Which Mexico chocolate? Let me know so I go buy some. There are lots of Spanish groceries here where I live.

          • UserID01

            Uhmmmm… I had “Mexican chocolate” ice cream before, and I usually don’t like the taste of chocolate ice cream because the chocolate tastes fake. But this Mexican chocolate ice cream had a dash of red pepper, cinnamon, and maybe nutmeg in it. It didn’t taste spicy at all, just very rich.

          • Tova Rischi

            Just so you know, weed grows basically everywhere – that’s a big part of why it’s called weed.

  • One for all
  • One for all

    It’s not very diffetent from what is going on in Korea’s marriage industry. It is also cheaper to import your bride compared to getting a locally made one.

    • bang2tang

      kopino & bride for Hanoi???

  • bang2tang

    how about allocated production by outsourcing in China???

  • Markus Peg

    No fake can beat a McVitie’s “Digestive” biscuit even the copies in the UK are not as good a the McVitie’s ones… Other buscuits can be copied okay-ish but the Digestive copies seem to have fake sweeter in them. The taste has not been copied…

    • Boris

      You are Brit?

  • Truck Furniture Maker

    Sadly, if you ask Koreans which is the original many don’t know due to the similarity of the knock-offs. The second problem is the originals are not as widely available.

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