Agriculture, Food and Beverage

South Korea is banning coffee in all of its schools

A waiter carries two cups of Turkish coffee at a coffee shop in Istanbul October 19, 2007. Turks are turning their backs on traditional Turkish coffee as they acquire a taste for the cappuccinos and espressos served at global coffee chain outlets opening up across this economically booming Muslim country. Picture taken October 19, 2007. To match feature TURKEY-COFFEE      REUTERS/Osman Orsal   (TURKEY)

Coffee was previously exempt from laws surrounding caffeine consumption in schools. Image: REUTERS/Osman Orsal

Joe Myers
Writer, Forum Agenda
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Agriculture, Food and Beverage

The sale of coffee is to be banned in South Korean schools following a decision by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, according to a report in the Korea Times.

Cups of coffee are currently sold from vending machines and snack shops in schools. But the Ministry is concerned about the impact on children’s health. It cites fears about the long term impact on physical and mental health, as well as short-term dizziness, a rapid heartbeat and trouble sleeping.

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Currently, products high in caffeine or calories or low in nutritional value are restricted or banned from sale in schools. Coffee had been classified as an adult beverage, and so not included in the ban. However, a revision to an act controlling children’s diets has changed this.

"The revision aims to create healthy eating habits among children and teenagers," a ministry official is quoted as saying in the paper. "We will make sure coffee is banned at schools without fail."

It’s not just the pupils that won’t be able to get their caffeine kick though - teachers are included as well.

Coffee beans are seen as they are being packed for export in Medan, Indonesia's North Sumatra province April 25, 2013. A lower coffee export volume from Vietnam, the world's largest robusta producer, plus delayed shipment in rival robusta producer Indonesia, could push up prices due to tighter supply in the coming weeks. Indonesia and Vietnam account for nearly a quarter of the world's coffee output.
Image: REUTERS/YT Haryono

The coffee shop explosion

Coffee is an increasingly popular drink in South Korea, with more than 18,000 specialist coffee shops in the capital Seoul alone. This is up from around 10,000 at the beginning of the decade.

Data suggests the market grew significantly over this time to more than 11 trillion won ($9.9bn). Per capita consumption is also on the rise - doubling since 1990 to 2.3kg by 2014. By comparison, the US consumed around 4.5kg per capita in 2014.

No one is quite sure how we discovered coffee - but we certainly can’t get enough of the stuff.

Image: Atlas Charts

Across the world, More than 7 million tonnes of coffee were consumed in 2016, according to EuroMonitor International. Brazil is now thought to be the biggest consumer of coffee, followed by the USA and Indonesia.

Although there are concerns about the side-effects of consuming excessive caffeine, other studies point to the health benefits of drinking several cups a day.

The ban in South Korean schools is set to come into force on 14 September.

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