February 7, 2018 / 5:24 AM / in 10 months

Olympics-Games hunger helps S.Korean chicken stocks weather storm

SEOUL, Feb 7 (Reuters) - South Korea's chicken industry is weathering global turmoil in stock markets, thanks to the winter Olympics.

Investors are betting that millions of Koreans will feast on fried chicken, a staple for sports fans, as they watch the country host its first winter Games in homes and bars.

Further heightening interest for local TV audiences, arch rival North Korea is sending a team to Pyeongchang, a ski resort near the heavily militarised border.

South Korea's main chicken related shares -- Harim Co. , Maniker and Dongwoo Farm to Table -- have outperformed the broader local market so far this year, having weathered a sell-off in stocks world-wide.

Harim is up 13.3 percent, Maniker 5.3 percent and Dongwoo 2 percent, all faring better than the benchmark Kospi index which is down around 0.6 percent.

"Demand is likely to grow because people will order fried chicken to watch the games and this will have a positive impact on the stocks," said Lee Kyung-ju, an analyst at Korea Investment & Securities.

Prime-time scheduling of South Korea's favoured sports will also help, he said, noting that speed skating events were set to be aired in the evenings.

A Harim spokesman said the firm expected a jump in chicken demand this week, with some events starting ahead of Friday's official opening ceremony, and would keep a close eye on stocks to ensure it can keep up supplies.

South Korean chicken consumption is expected to rise to 14.2 kg per capita this year from 13.6 kg in 2017, thanks to the Olympics and other major sports events such as the World Cup, according to a report by the Korea Rural Economic Institute.

Kwak Sung-kwon, company director at Genesis BBQ, the country's top fried chicken franchise, said winter weather also piqued appetites for fried chicken.

"It's cold so delivery orders increase a lot," Kwak said.

Fried chicken and beer are a combination known as chimaek, a sports bar classic that came of age here in 2002 when South Korea co-hosted the World Cup with Japan. (Additional reporting by Dahee Kim and Cynthia Kim; Editing by Mark Bendeich)

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