The size of the food and drinks market in South Korea was estimated to be ₤45 billion and is expected to increase year on year by approximately 9 percent. Plus, South Korea is currently dependent on imports for 60-70 percent of its food.
Food & Drink Sector in South Korea
The size of the food and drinks market in South Korea was estimated to be ?45 billion and is expected to
increase year on year by approximately 9 percent. Plus, South Korea is currently dependent on imports for
60-70 percent of its food.
The size of the food and drinks market in South Korea was estimated to be ?45 billion and is
expected to increase year on year by approximately 9 percent.
South Korea is currently dependent on imports for 60-70 percent of its food. This figure has been
increasing in recent years as local agriculture and food production fails to keep pace with the
increasing demand. Consumers are demanding healthy and convenient products, a trend that is
consistent with consumer practices in affluent countries around the world.
Rapid economic growth and increasing income per capita has led to substantial changes in eating
habits. Consumption of the main staple food, rice, has declined, while consumption of meat,
fruit, vegetables and dairy products has increased. Plus, the younger generation?s exposure to
western-style foods, brands and tastes, through overseas travel and study, is increasing their
familiarity and acceptance of Western food products.
The organic food market has been continuously growing over the last five years and is expected
to maintain this upward trend by 25 per cent. Experts forecast the market volume will reach 4
trillion Korean Won in 4 years.
The European Union and Korea signed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on 6 October esulting
in the removal of 97 percent of all tariffs cutting ?1.6bn of duties annually for EU exporters from
July 2011. Some of the ways the FTA will influence the Food & Drink sector are:
Dairy products - From 8% to 0% immediately
Scotch Whisky - From 20% to 0% in 3 years
Beer - From 30% to 0% in 7 years
Meat products - From 22.5% to 0% in 10 years
Source: European Commission
South Korea already is a huge importer of UK whisky. Currently, old blended whisky, rather
than premium products and single malts, are popular in South Korea. South Korean consumers
also consume light beers and lagers. Recently, imported premium lager, has been experiencing
strong sales growth. The demand for beer amongst younger people as well as female drinkers is
Coffee and Tea
The market for coffee is growing as South Koreans embrace the Western coffee culture.
Although the American style is leading the coffee market, trendy consumers are increasingly
looking to embrace the European style as well. In addition, tea remains popular for its health
benefits. There is an opportunity for British tea and its culture as the high tariffs are removed.
Increasing numbers of dual-income families and single-parent households dominate the growth
in pre-packaged ready meals. Plus, exposure of South Korea's younger generation to western-
style foods, brands, and tastes through overseas travel and study is increasing their desire for
ready meals. The FTA will affect the high duties currently in place on these products.
Local prices for dairy products are high by global standards, and local producers only create a
small amount of processed cheese. South Korean food processors are seeking reliable sources of
high-quality and cost-competitive dairy ingredients. There are strong opportunities for UK
companies to supply dairy products and cheese ? particularly cheddar, as Stilton is considered
too strong for South Korean tastes.
Meat and Fisheries
The farm products sector will benefit considerably from the FTA, especially those dealing in
frozen pork, which is in high demand. Frozen pork belly accounts for up to 70 per cent of pork
imports and no quantity limitations are in place offering a good opportunity for UK suppliers. In
addition, there are opportunities for the whelk meat and pollack.
Latest export opportunities ? Food & Drink
Latest export opportunities ? South Korea
Getting into the market
To compete in South Korea UK companies are recommended to have a capable local distributor,
licensee or franchise partner who has an established network in the market and extensive market
knowledge. A long-term perspective and a reliable partnership between supplier and their local
partner is one of the key factors in achieving success.
More about doing business in South Korea
Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke
market research and support during overseas visits though our chargeable Overseas Market
Introduction Service (OMIS).
To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists
in country - or contact your local international trade team.
? Yeunjin Park, British Embassy Seoul. Tel: +82 (0)2 3210 5626 or email:
Contact your local international trade team
UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to
overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.
Latest events ? Food & Drink
Seoul Food Week 2011
Date: 9-12 November 2011
Website address: www.foodweek.co.kr
International Food Industry Exhibition 2012
Date: 8-11 May 2012
Website address: www.seoulfood.or.kr
More about OMIS and other UKTI services for exporters